Security tightened in Egypt ahead of Coptic Easter celebrations

Ahram Online , Saturday 15 Apr 2017

Egyptian Copts, who are still mourning the death of 46 on last week's Palm Sunday, are observing Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday this week

File Photo: A general views shows the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria . (AFP)

Security has been tightened nationwide to secure Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, less than a week after two church bombings left dozens dead and injured, state news agency MENA reported Saturday.

Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghafar held a number of meetings with aides to review and reassess security plans, including the securing of churches and vital institutions across the country, a security source told MENA.

The security plans, according to the security source, include a routine combing of churches for explosive devices until the end of the Easter celebrations.

They also include creating 400-metre zone near churches free of cars and motorbikes.

On Palm Sunday last week, two suicide bombings hit St George's Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, killing 46 and injuring dozens in the deadliest attack on Copts in the country's recent memory.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, naming the Alexandria suicide bomber as Aba Isaac Al-Masry and the Tanta suicide bomber as Aba Al-Baraa Al-Masry.

A three-month state of emergency was declared later on Sunday by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The cabinet approved the state of emergency Monday, and parliament approved the decision unanimously Tuesday.

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt's population of more than 92 million, have been targeted by several terrorist attacks in recent months.

In December, a suicide bombing claimed by IS killed 29 worshippers at a Cairo church.

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