At least 37 people have been killed and hundreds more injured after two Egyptian churches were targeted by bomb attacks as worshippers celebrated Palm Sunday.
The first deadly explosion took place at St George’s Coptic Church in Tanta, 70 miles north of Cairo, just before 10am local time, killing 26 and wounding more than 50 others.
Officials said the blast happened “in the front rows, near the altar, during the mass”.
Horrifying footage and images posted on social media appears to show the aftermath as crowds gathered around dead bodies and large blood stains on the pews and church walls.
Hours later, a suicide bomber carried out the second attack outside St Mark’s Coptic Church in the coastal city of Alexandria killed 11 people and injured 66 others, the Egyptian health ministry confirmed.
Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic church, had earlier attended mass there.
ISIS have since claimed responsibility for both attacks through its Amaq news agency.
Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt later this month, condemned the attacks.
He sent his “deep condolences” to the “dear Egyptian nation” and his “beloved brother” Pope Tawadros II.
Egyptian state television said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had ordered an emergency defence council meeting.
The explosions come as Coptic worshippers gathered for the celebrations of Palm Sunday – the Sunday before Easter, which marks the start of Holy Week for Christians.