Christians as bellwether in Egypt's anti-terror campaign

President Aliyev offers condolences to Egyptian president

Hours later, a suicide bomber struck the Saint Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandrias Manshyia district, killing at least 18 people and wounding 41 others.

Pope Francis will visit the Sunni institution in late April during his apostolic visit to Egypt.

On Sunday, twin suicide bombing at two churches in Delta province of Gharbiya and Alexandria province in northern Egypt killed at least 45 and wounded over 120.

The army chief-turned-president also dispatched elite troops across the country to protect key installations and accused unidentified countries of fueling instability, saying that "Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt".

Copts account for the majority of Egypt's Christians.

Egypt's government imposed a three-month state of emergency in the wake of the attacks.

The Catholic Copts, who form part of the Church's eastern rite, have been headed by Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak since 2013.

IS claimed that its "squads" carried out both attacks, in a statement by its self-styled Amaq news agency published on social media accounts.

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Outside of Cairo's St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, a dozen high-ranking police officers are stationed on all entrances, searching cars and scanning the area, as security measures are visibly beefed up outside churches before Easter prayers on Sunday.

The bombing in Alexandria was reportedly the work of Abu al-Bar al-Masri, who blew himself up near the doors of the church just as he passed through the metal detector.

The "Islamic State" ("IS") militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings and threatened further attacks against Egypt's Christian minority.

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Israel meanwhile closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt after its anti-terrorism office warned of an "imminent" militant attack there, underlining fears of more violence.

Al-Sisi has declared a three-month state of emergency for the country, and ordered troops to help police secure public spaces.

This would likely be viewed as a win for Islamists because it would make them appear capable of driving out religious minorities despite facing the full force of Egyptian security forces.

"On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I extend my deepest condolences to you, families and loved ones of those who were killed and the whole people of Egypt, and wish those injured the soonest possible recovery".

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