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22 killed in bomb blast at main Coptic cathedral in Cairo

35 others were injured when a bomb was lobbed into a chapel near the cathedral's outer wall

Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo. Photo: Twitter
Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo. Photo: Twitter

At least 22 people were killed and over 30 injured on Sunday in a blast at Cairo's main Coptic Christian cathedral during a mass, the latest attack on minorities suspected to be carried out by jihadists.

The explosion took place at St Mark's Cathedral, main Coptic Christian cathedral in central Cairo, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health.

According to the Egyptian state TV, 22 people were killed, while 35 others were injured when a bomb was lobbed into a chapel near the cathedral's outer wall.

As the blast took place during the Christian prayer time and there were a large number of people  inside the cathedral, many people were injured, the statement said.

The bomb was remotely exploded.

Most of the victims are women and children, officials said.

The number of casualties may rise.

The incident took place two days after six policemen were killed in an attack in Cairo on Friday.

St Mark's Cathedral is the seat of Egypt's Orthodox Christian church and is home to the office of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II.

Jihadists in Sinai often target Christians as well as Muslims. 

Copts, who make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's population of 90 million, have faced persecution and discrimination that increased during the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by a popular uprising in 2011.

Dozens have been killed in recent years in sectarian attacks and clashes throughout Egypt.