A week after bombings at Coptic churches that left at least 45 people dead, Egypt's Coptic Christians held Easter services amid tight security and threats of more terror attacks.
St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo had at least eight security agents, who surrounded Pope Tawadros II as he entered the church for the Easter service Saturday, The Associated Press reported.
The Coptic pope led prayers during the service, which was attended by several ministers.
"This is a clear message to the whole world that we are not afraid," Rafiq Bishry, head of the organizational committee for St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, told Reuters.
Authorities created 400-meter radius security cordons around churches, barring vehicles, according to the newswire.
Bomb squads were also seen scanning churches across the country for suspicious objects.
The human rights group Amnesty International last month urged Egyptian authorities to offer "urgent protection" to Coptic Christians in North Sinai and provide essential services and accommodation to hundreds who are being forced to flee their homes after at least seven Christians were killed in a series of attacks weeks before the Palm Sunday bombings.
"This terrifying wave of attacks has seen Coptic Christians in North Sinai hunted down and murdered by armed groups. No one should face discrimination — let alone violent and deadly attacks — because of their religious beliefs," said Najia Bounaim, deputy director for campaigns at the group's regional office in Tunis.
The attacks forced at least 100 families and 200 students to flee.
The Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, recently released a video threatening Christians in the country. IS is also believed to be behind the bombing of a chapel adjoining Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope, in December. At least 28 people were killed.
Last Sunday, two suicide bombers attacked a Coptic cathedral in Alexandria and a church in Tanta during Palm Sunday services. More than 100 people were killed and at least 45 others were killed. Pope Tawadros was leading the mass in Alexandria when the blast occurred.
Coptic Christians account for about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 82 million.