Egypt's Armed Forces, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, has intensified measures to secure New Year's and Christmas celebrations nationwide, a statement by military spokesperson Tamer El-Refai said on Monday.
"The general command of the Armed Forces has taken every measure... to secure the celebrations of New Year and the glorious Christmas in all governorates of the Republic," the statement read.
The statement says that security forces are ready to be deployed to ensure the safety of citizens at places of worship and vital facilities.
Basilic Church in Cairo secured by Army vehicules ahead of Christmas celebrations (Photo: Courtesy of Egypt's Army Spokesperson)
The military spokesperson said that all forces have been trained on how to deal with threats that may disturb the celebrations.
"Special Forces units have prepared many combat groups to assist with tactical formations in securing the celebrations, the Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF) will also function as backup in case of any disruptions to the celebrations," the statement read.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Minister of Defence Mohamed Zaki stressed the need for leaders on all levels to ensure that all participating forces understand the tasks assigned to them to secure the celebrations, to address all threats and act in emergency situations in cooperation with police forces.
Church in Cairo secured by Army Forces Vehicules (Photo: Courtesy of Egypt's Army Spokesperson)
The statement added that military police in cooperation with police forces will also deploy moving patrols and set up checkpoints.
The Suez Canal will have its own security measures, with all navigational routes to be monitored to prevent smuggling, El-Refai said.
Coptic Egyptians, who make up 90 percent of Christians in the country, celebrate Christmas on 7 January. However, a minority of non-orthodox Christian Egyptians observe 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.
On Palm Sunday in April 2017, two terrorist bombings at St George's Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria killed a total 47 worshippers in near-simultaneous attacks.
In December 2016, a suicide attack on Cairo's St Peter and St Paul Church killed 29 people, mostly women and children, during mass.
Christians make up 10 to 15 percent of Egypt's population.