Cairo, Jan 07 (Agencies): Coptic Christians in Egypt attended Christmas Eve services behind cordons of steel put up by security forces, after a New Year church bombing killed 21 people in Alexandria.

Security officials said at least 70,000 officers and conscripts were deployed across the country to secure churches as Copts attended Christmas Eve mass.

Police said one primitive explosive device, a tin can filled with fire crackers, nails and bolts, but with no detonator was found in a church in the southern city of Minya.

Armoured cars were stationed next to churches for Christmas Day on January 7 under the Coptic calendar, police said.

Drivers will be banned from parking in front of churches, which will be tightly monitored by explosives detection teams and police, the official said.

Some Muslims, he said, will also show up at churches to act as human shields in a show of solidarity with Egypt's beleaguered Christian community, which accounts for 10 per cent of the country's 80 million people.

The official Al-Ahram newspaper reported that security would also be tightened around tourist resorts.