Tens of thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed across Egypt to protect minority Christians and their churches on the eve of Orthodox Christmas.
The overwhelming majority of Egypt’s Christians are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
The Coptic pontiff, Pope Tawadros II, will lead Christmas Mass later Saturday at an unfinished cathedral in Egypt’s new Administrative Capital, a multi-billion dollar, under-construction project east of Cairo.
The tight security is in anticipation of attacks by Islamic militants who have targeted Christians since December 2016 with a series of bombings, killing about 100 people.
A militant opened fire outside a suburban Cairo church on Dec. 29, killing at least nine people.
An Islamic State affiliate has claimed responsibility for most attacks on Christians.