Egypt's Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar held a meeting on Thursday with top ministry officials and deputies to review plans for securing Christian places of worship for Coptic Christmas celebrations on 7 January. Abdel-Ghaffar has ordered the highest security alert level as well as an intensified security presence around churches in coordination with the Armed Forces.
The minister also ordered an increased security presence on major streets and squares, public parks, areas of celebration and vital state facilities.
Coptic Orthodox Egyptians, who make up 90 percent of all Christians in the country, celebrate Christmas on 7 January. A minority of non-Orthodox Christians observed the holiday on 25 December.
Over the past two years, terrorist attacks targeting churches during religious holiday seasons have left dozens of Christians killed and injured.
Last week, nine people were killed and four were injured when a gunman opened fire outside the Mar Mina Church in Cairo's Helwan.
On Palm Sunday last April, 47 people were killed in two suicide bombings at the St George Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria.
In December 2016, a suicide bombing targeting Cairo's St Peter and St Paul Church killed 29 people, mostly women and children.
All four attacks were claimed by the terrorist group Daesh.