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Egypt tightens security to welcome Coptic Christmas

01-04-2011 07:32 BJT

CAIRO, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Egypt resorted to all its resources to abort the vicious terrorist plot after the attack against Alexandria's church, and security was tightened up around churches across the country to welcome Christmas which Copts celebrate on January 7.

The Egyptian police cancelled the departure for top officers and were tightening surveillance of airports and ports to prevent suspects from leaving the country, as new checkpoints were set up across the nation, according to media reports.

Pope Shenouda III assured on Sunday that cancelling celebrations and Christmas prayers over the killing and injury of scores of people in the attack "will not solve problems but will cause embarrassment to all".

He said that he will lead the Midnight Christmas Mass on Thursday, marking the Coptic Christmas, as quoted by state newspaper Al Ahram.

Security is to be tightened at churches, according to security officials, to ensure the safety of Egyptian Christians during January 7 celebrations.

In a meeting on Sunday, Interior Minister Habib el-Adly stressed that the ministry would beef up security around all vital facilities, especially during the upcoming Coptic feast.

This comes amid fears of further demonstrations and terrorist attacks that started ever since the attack outside a church in Alexandria that killed 21 people and injured nearly 100.

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayyeb, Egypt's top Muslim cleric paid a visit to Pope Shenouda III, the head of Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo on Sunday and expressed his condolences over the fall of innocent people in the attack.

However the meeting didn't cool down the anger of Copts, who continued their protest although Pope Shenouda called on all Copts to be calm and exercise self-restraint.

Outraged Coptic protesters stormed the Egyptian streets. It was reported that protesters attacked the vehicles of the Grand Imam until police interfered.

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in front of the Nile Towers mall on Cornish el-Nile marching to the Radio and TV headquarters in Maspero on Sunday, where some of the protesters tried to enter the building but were prevented by the police.

Other protests took place in areas like Ramsis Square in downtown Cairo.

At the same time, Al Ahram quoted security sources who said that the security services have managed to collect clue which could help to understand the culprits.

An official security source said criminals used big quantities of TNT material and some steep particles which could cause much wound.

Until now no group claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing which came when Christians left Al Qiddeseen Church after attending the New Year's Eve mass.

However, according to security officials on Sunday, the Egyptian police are investigating the New Year's bomb blast to which they blame a group of Islamists inspired by al-Qaida based in Alexandria.

In a statement made by the upper house of the Egyptian parliament on Monday, the members wrote that "the attack was designed to assassinate the security of Egypt and to sow the seeds of sedition between its citizens".

The statement also appealed to the media especially the Egyptian press and some satellite channels to stop igniting sectarianism.



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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