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Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L), Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and Patriarch of Saint Marc Episcopate receives Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R), at the new Coptic Cathedral at the new Coptic Cathedral "The Nativity of Christ" in the new administrative capital, 45km east of Cairo, Egypt January 6, 2018, in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

(reuters_tickers)

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, led midnight mass in the cathedral of Egypt's new administrative capital on Saturday, a service attended by President Abdel Fattah al Sisi.

The mass, on the eve of Coptic Christmas which is celebrated on Jan. 7, was the first to be held in the newly-built cathedral and took place amid tight security. Sisi was cheered by worshippers as he entered the building.

The new Egyptian capital, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce crowding in Cairo.

Some 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo, the city, which has not yet been given a name, will be home to government ministries, housing and an airport.

The celebrations were held days after attacks on a Coptic church and another Christian-owned shop that left more than 10 people dead.

Egypt's large Christian minority has increasingly been targeted in recent years by Islamist militants including Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency in the north of the remote Sinai Peninsula.

(Reporting by Ahmed Fahmy; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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Reuters