A nun cries
© Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters
A nun cries as she stands at the scene inside Cairo's Coptic cathedral, following one of the 2016 bombing.
Egyptian security forces have thwarted a suicide bomber as he attempted to position himself among members of a church congregation wearing a belt of explosives, during a religious celebration at a heavily guarded Christian church.

The suicide bomber was attempting to enter the Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod, Shubra Al-Khaim, when tight security prevented him from getting close to the crowds of Coptic Christians. Abdel Maseeh Basset, pastor of the Church, told local media that the bomb went off before the would-be killer got to the church.

The bomber was killed on a nearby bridge in Northern Cairo when his explosive belt blew up, Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Saba reported. The bomber, believed to be a 29-year-old male, was the only person killed when the explosives detonated. Two people were also wounded in the explosion.

Security during the Christian festival of St. Mary's Fast had been stepped up, following an increase in attacks in recent years by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) on Egypt's minority Christian population. In 2016, at least 25 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Christian church. In April 2017, two suicide bombings on Palm Sunday at two Coptic churches killed at least 47. One month later, at least another 28 were killed after terrorists targeted a bus carrying Coptic Christians. Islamic State claimed to be behind all of the attacks.

St Mary's Fast ends on August 21.