January 5, 2019 5:41 pm
Updated: January 5, 2019 9:43 pm

Egyptian explosives expert killed while trying to defuse bomb at Cairo church

WATCH: Security was ramped up outside a church in Egypt where an officer was killed trying to defuse a bomb in an eastern Cairo suburb.

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An Egyptian police officer was killed on Saturday while attempting to defuse an explosive device found at a church in an eastern Cairo suburb, state television reported, less than two days prior to Coptic Christmas celebrated by Egypt’s Christians.

Two policemen and an onlooker were also injured when the device exploded, security sources said.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incident.

READ MORE: Bomb blast near Giza Pyramids in Egypt hits tourist bus, at least 4 dead

Egyptian security forces have stepped up their presence outside churches and other places of worship ahead of New Year’s Eve and Coptic Christmas, which is celebrated on Jan. 7.

The Copts, who make up around 10 percent of the population, have long complained of discrimination. They have also frequently been attacked by Islamist militants who see them as infidels, prompting authorities to place armed guards outside churches and monasteries.

WATCH: At least 44 dead in Egypt church bombings (Apr. 9, 2017)

In November, militants killed seven people returning from baptizing a child at a Coptic monastery about 260 km (160 miles) up the River Nile from Cairo.

© 2019 Reuters

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