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Egypt Deploys Thousands of Forces for Coptic Christmas
By Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo -- Egypt has deployed some 150,000 security forces around churches and major places in the country ahead of Saturday's Coptic Christian Christmas, security sources said.

Security checkpoints have been set up outside churches as explosives experts assisted with sniffer dogs have been deployed in the vicinity to enhance security during celebrations, the sources added.

Metal detectors have also been installed at entrances to the churches as part of tight security. Church personnel also help in checking identities of worshippers before letting them in for Mass services.

"We will not allow any attempt to disrupt festivities," a security official added on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Copts, who make up the majority of Egypt's Christian community, on Saturday, celebrate the Christmas amid worries after recent attacks.

Last month, 27 people were killed in an attack on a chapel adjoining the Orthodox Church, which is the seat of the Coptic Pope.

The suicide attack, claimed by the Daesh terror group, occurred during Mass in the chapel. It was the deadliest assault against Egyptian Christians in decades.

The latest victim, a 63-year-old woman, died of her injuries and was buried on Thursday.

Earlier this week, a suspected militant killed a Christian vendor by slaying him outside his store in Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

The 49-year-old suspect was later arrested.

Egypt's Christians have long complained about persecution and attacks by radicals.

Christians staunchly back President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, who as defence minister led the army's 2013 ouster of president Mohammad Mursi following mass protests against his rule.

Dozens of churches across Egypt were attacked by Mursis's backers in the violent protests that gripped the mostly Muslim country following his overthrow.

In 2014, Al Sissi became the first Egyptian president to go to the Cathedral in central Cairo on the Coptic Christmas Eve and congratulated Copts on the occasion. He made a similar visit the following year.


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