Egypt raises security level to maximum alert in preparation for Coptic holidays
Egyptian authorities announced that they will raise security levels to maximum alert on Sunday in preparation for Coptic Christmas festivities and possible Sinai terrorist attacks.
Following a meeting chaired by the Minister of Interior, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, the ministry released a statement showcasing their plan to secure Christmas celebrations which begin later this month and will continue until January 7.
“Critical security confrontations with terrorist factions in North Sinai may prompt some of them to flee and try to sneak into cities, and this will require vigilance and preparation to face those attempts,” said Abdel Ghaffar.
A terrorist attack on a security checkpoint in Arish earlier today prompted the decision to raise security levels to maximum alert by the minister, which is the highest level of security measures.
The ministry confirmed the importance of intensifying the presence of security forces around public areas and places of worship to be able to deal immediately and decisively with any attempt to disturb the holiday celebrations of Egypt's citizens, according to Egypt Today.
Security forces will apply 800-meter “safe areas” around churches and the government will provide explosive detection devices to counter any attempts to target places of worship, the newspaper added.
Security forces will implement security procedures for all 2,326 churches in Egypt.
During Christmas celebrations in 2016, an explosion in the al-Botrosiya Church, near the complex of the main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, killed 29 people and injured tens of others. The attack was orchestrated by ISIS.
Last month, another terrorist attack targeted al-Rawda Mosque north of Sinai, killing 305 people, and injuring 128 others.