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Egypt beefs up security around churches in New Year celebrations

Xinhua,January 01, 2018 Adjust font size:

CAIRO, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Egyptian security forces have been intensifying presence around churches nationwide during in New Year celebrations, said the Egyptian military spokesman in a statement on Sunday.

The statement comes a couple of days after a terrorist shootout outside a church southern Cairo killed at least 10 people, including a policeman and one of the two perpetrators.

"The surrounding areas of churches and places of worship have witnessed intensified security deployment to secure the inflow of Coptic citizens to celebrate the feast," said Egypt's military spokesman Tamer al-Refaay in the statement.

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

The terrorist attacks were centered in North Sinai and targeted security forces before they gradually extended to other provinces, including the capital Cairo, and started to target dozens of the Coptic minority with church bombings.

Most of the attacks were claimed by a Sinai-based terrorist group loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group.

In late May, the IS claimed responsibility for shooting dead at least 30 Copts heading to visit a monastery on the desert highway in Upper Egypt's Minya province.

Earlier in April, the IS-claimed bombings at two churches in Gharbiya and Alexandria northern provinces killed at least 47 and wounded over 120.

A similar suicide bombing at a Cairo church in December 2016 killed at least 29 worshippers, mostly women and children.

Last month, a terrorist attack against a mosque in a village in Arish city of North Sinai killed at least 310 Muslim worshippers and wounded over 120 others, marking the deadliest terror attack and the first against a Muslim mosque in Egypt's modern history.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of terrorists and arrested a similar number of suspects during the country's anti-terror war declared by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief then, following Morsi's ouster. Enditem