The officials said late Sunday night's explosion was caused by primitive bomb planted under a parked car near Saint Mary Church in Cairo's Zeitoun district. The church is one of the holiest sites for Egypt's Coptic Christian minority because an apparition of the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared there in 1968.
The bomb went off around 9 p.m. and the car burst into flames while a wedding was under way in the church, causing a panic among passers-by in the mainly Coptic neighborhood, witnesses said.
"Shop owners closed their stores, and most people ran in panic," said a pharmacist working in a near by drug store. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government harassment for speaking about the attack. Most shops in the neighborhood remained shut Monday.
A police official said the bomb appeared to be intended "to scare rather than to kill." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
Egypt's Christians, estimated at 10 percent of Egypt's nearly 80 million people, often complain of discrimination at the hands of the Muslim majority. A government decision to slaughter all the pigs in the country in reaction to the swine flu scare angered some Christians, who argued that the order targeted their community, which is the only one that raises or eats pigs.