Many Egyptian Christians say they fear a repeat attack on their community on Coptic Christmas Eve Thursday and authorities are planning to deploy heavy security around churches to protect them.

A suicide bombing of a church in the coastal city of Alexandria shortly after midnight on New Year’s killed 21 people and injured about 100. It touched off days of enraged protests and riots by Christians who accuse the government of neglecting to protect the minority.

Authorities suspect local Islamic extremists, perhaps inspired by al-Qaida, carried out the attack.

A Facebook group that attracted 38,000 people is urging Christians to defy fears and go to church on Christmas Eve. However, many Christian families voiced deep fears of another attack.

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