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Security tightened around Egyptian churches in approach to Christmas


23 December 2019

Authorities in Egypt have tightened security around churches, as well as mosques, in Cairo and other major towns and cities in the run up to Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Army personnel have been deployed to reinforce police protection of religious buildings and economic facilities. Security forces are also reported to have arrested a number of suspected Islamist extremists.

Caption
Police presence was stepped in Cairo early in 2019 after a policeman died diffusing a bomb placed outside a church [Image source: FRANCE 24 English (Youtube)]

Since the “Arab Spring” protests of 2011, Egyptian security forces have been locked in a counterinsurgency campaign against IS militants in northern Sinai, where terrorists have threatened to kill all Christians.

In January 2019, an Egyptian police officer was killed while attempting to defuse a bomb planted near a Cairo church only two days before 7 January, the date when Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. On 29 December 2018, IS gunmen killed nine Christians as they walked to a church in Helwan, south of Cairo.