The papal visit comes shortly after suicide attacks on two churches killed dozens of people

Egypt has heightened security in the area around the Vatican residence in Cairo ahead of Pope Francis’ visit this weekend, which comes weeks after suicide attacks on two churches killed dozens of people.

In Zamalek, a wealthy neighborhood on a Nile island, police have been conducting door-to-door checks, searching passers-by and instructing business owners to close their shops for the visit, which begins on Friday. Parking has been prohibited on major streets close to the residence.

An official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that security forces will search for explosives in the area during the visit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has told the Egyptian people he is coming to Cairo this week as a friend and a “messenger of peace.”

In a videotaped message in Italian released by the Vatican on Tuesday, Francis said he hopes the pilgrimage will be “an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East.”

The two-day visit will include a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. For a full schedule of the papal visit, go here.