Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a three-month countrywide state of emergency would be imposed, subject to parliamentary approval, after two deadly bombings hit Coptic churches on Palm Sunday, killing at least 44 people and injuring more than 100.

In a televised speech addressing the nation, Sisi called for national unity and urged the media to refrain from coverage that could be harmful.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on Coptic churches, that occurred a week before Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later this month.

The assault is the latest on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants, and a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism.

– By REUTERS