Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a suicide bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral on Sunday that killed at least 25 people.
The militant group said in a statement carried by its news agency Amaq that a suicide bomber whom it identified as Abu Abdallah al-Masri had detonated his explosive belt inside the church.
"Every infidel and apostate in Egypt and everywhere should know that our war ... continues," it said.
|Damage from the explosion inside Cairo's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral is seen inside the cathedral in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The Interior Ministry identified the bomber on Monday as 22-year-old student Mahmoud Shafik Mohammed Mostafa, and said he was a supporter of the banned Muslim Brotherhood political movement who had joined a militant cell while on the run from police.
In an interview with Reuters, Mostafa's mother said he had been sexually abused in police custody in 2014, but that she had seen no sign that he had been radicalized.
In addition to the dead, at least 49 people were wounded when the bomb went off in a chapel adjoining St Mark's Cathedral, Cairo's largest church and seat of the Coptic Christian papacy.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said four people had been detained and two were on the run.
Sisi took power in 2013, deposing the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi, and has since outlawed the Islamist movement as part of a crackdown in which hundreds of its supporters have been killed and thousands jailed.
The Interior Ministry said Mahmoud had been arrested in March 2014 for carrying arms during a protest, and freed on bail after two months. It said he had joined a cell led by Mohab Mostafa Sayyed Qassem, a militant with links to Islamic State fighters in Northern Sinai and exiled Brotherhood officials in Qatar, and was wanted in two other cases.
His mother, Umm Bilal, said Mahmoud had fled to Sudan shortly after being released.
"Mahmoud would not do this ... he would not kill anyone," she shouted as she listened to a news report on the bombing.
She said Mahmoud's father had died two years ago, and that Mahmoud called her regularly from abroad, most recently about a week ago.
"He said he would not return because security forces would detain him again ... He was asking after me and his sisters ... I didn't notice any change in his voice or anything to suggest he would blow himself up."Reuters