Increased security planned near Egypt churches ahead of New Year’s celebrations

Ahram Online, Monday 30 Dec 2013

Heavy security measures will be taken in the vicinity of churches in Cairo, Giza ahead of New Year's

The Coptic Orthodx Church of Alexandria (Photo: Reuters)

The Cairo and Giza security directorates will deploy intense measures in the vicinity of churches and places of assembly on New Year’s eve.

Two police officers, a detective and a security vehicle will be located in front of every church in both governorates and plain clothes officers will also be present on streets leading to churches, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Three years ago, a deadly blast took the lives of 23 people as they were leaving from a New Year's Mass at the two Saints Church Sidi Bishr, Alexandria.

Churches in Egypt frequently have a security post with a single officer, while increased deployments typically occur at larger churches or those located in relatively upscale areas.

According to Al-Ahram, stationary and mobile security checkpoints will also be deployed on the entrance of the Giza governorate on New Year’s to search cars and secure roads. Explosives experts, civil defense personnel and guard dogs will also be distributed around places of assembly in search of explosive devices.

Fears of potential blasts rose this year after militant attacks have spiked since the July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Initially centred in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, the attacks have recently extended to additional governorates.

Egypt has witnessed three explosions in the past week.

A bomb rocked the Security Directorate building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura on Tuesday, killing 16 people and injuring more than 135.

On Sunday, four soldiers were injured in an explosion near the Sharqiya Governorate's Military Intelligence Headquarters, while on Thursday a smaller explosion near a public bus in eastern Cairo's Nasr City injured five people.

Also, numerous attacks against churches were reported following Morsi's removal from power, triggered by the forced dispersal of the two main pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo and Giza on 14 August, which left hundreds dead and thousands injured.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International said that upwards of 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country, adding that at least four people have been killed.

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