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Egypt boosts nationwide security for Christmas and New Year

Egypt’s Armed Forces, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, has intensified measures to secure Christmas and New Year’s celebrations nationwide, the army said in a statement on Monday.

“The General Command of the Armed Forces has taken every measure to secure the celebrations of New Year and the Christmas in all governorates of the republic,” a statement by military spokesperson Tamer al-Refai said.

According to the statement, security forces are ready to be deployed to ensure the safety of citizens at places of worship and vital facilities.

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 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 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, according to official Ahram Online news website.

“Military police in cooperation with police forces will also deploy moving patrols and set up checkpoints,” al-Refai said.

The Suez Canal will have its own security measures, with all navigational routes to be monitored to prevent smuggling, he added.

The Interior Ministry enhanced the deployment of security forces since Friday in all governorates to secure the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The security alert initiates an intensification of security services at all vital and important institutions in order to provide a secure environment during the celebrations, said the ministry in a statement.

Security agencies from all security directorates have already started to implement large-scale plans and procedures to maintain security and order, combat crimes of all forms, and achieve discipline during the celebrations, according to the statement.

“The measures include deploying fixed and mobile checkpoints and rapid intervention forces,” the statement read.

Copts, who make up 90 percent of Christians in the country, celebrate their Christmas on Jan. 7. However, a minority of non-orthodox Christian Egyptians see the holiday as on Dec. 25.

Egypt has been fighting against a wave of terror activities that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military toppled former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his currently blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group.

Terror attacks in Egypt had mainly targeted police and military men in North Sinai before spreading nationwide and targeting the Coptic Christian minority as well, leaving dozens of them dead.

Terrorists attacked two Coptic churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria in early April last year, killing a total of 47 people and wounding 106 others.

In December 2016, a suicide attack on Cairo’s St. Peter and St. Paul Church killed 29 people, mostly women and children, during mass.

Most of the attacks were claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the Islamic State extremist group.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the region, make up about 10 percent of the country’s 100 million population.

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