Egyptian police have detained at least 17 people suspected of their involvement in church attacks that killed 21 people on New Year's Eve. No extremists outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the blasts. Two explosions targeting more than 1000 worshipers who gathered to mark the New Year in the Sidi Bechr district rocked the northern port city of Alexandria on Friday. The bomb blasts are dubbed as the worst attacks against Christian minority in the past decade. President Hosni Mubarak already stated that a 'foreign hand' was being suspected in the bombing.
Several people attended the Sunday Mass at Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria, while riot police were deployed to prevent violence. On Saturday, several Coptic Christians took to the streets and clashed with police and Muslim groups.
Meanwhile, Muslim groups in the country criticized Pope's remarks on the attacks. They also urged unity between all religions. The imam of Al-Azhar who condemned the Alexandria attack went on to criticize the appeal by Benedict XVI to Egypt's leaders to counter the persecution of Christians, as an interference in Egypt's internal affairs.
Pope, earlier in his Angelus Blessing said, This vile gesture of death, like that of putting bombs near to the houses of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all of humanity.
He added that words were not enough to bring peace to the region and urged the leaders to give a concrete and constant commitment for the safety of Christians.
Christians constitute about 10 per cent of Egypt's population. In November last year, Christian protestors clashed with the riot police over a decision to halt the construction of a proposed church. The clashes resulted in the death of two Christians. An attack on a cathedral in Iraqi capital Baghdad in October last year killed 50 people.
Following the Saturday's attacks, Pope also said that he would organize a summit in Assisi with other religious heads aimed at promoting world peace. The summit could be held in October this year.