'Five die in Christian-Muslim clashes in Egypt'

Violence breaks out when Christian children draw on wall of Muslim religious institute in town outside of Cairo.

April 6, 2013 14:05
1 minute read.
Mohamed Mursi greets Coptic Bishop Beshoy

Coptic Christians, Morsy (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS)

CAIRO - Five Egyptians were killed and eight wounded during clashes between Christians and Muslims in a town near Cairo, security sources said on Saturday.

Four Christians and one Muslim were killed when members of both communities started shooting at each other in Khusus outside the Egyptian capital, the sources said.

They said the violence broke out late on Friday when a group of Christian children were drawing on a wall of a Muslim religious institute. No more details were immediately available.

State news agency MENA had earlier put the death toll at four.

MENA quoted a Christian official as saying unidentified assailants had attacked a local church during the clashes and set parts of it on fire. Police had stepped up security at the church after Muslim youths began gathering in the area.

The town was quiet on Saturday with a heavy security presence, a security source said. Some 15 police cars were patrolling the streets. Police detained 15 people.

Incidents of Christian-Muslim violence have increased in Egypt, a Muslim-majority nation, since the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. His overthrow gave freer rein to hardline Islamists repressed under his rule.

President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader elected in June, has promised to protect the rights of Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million people.

Sectarian tensions have often flared into violence, particularly in rural areas where rivalries between clans or families sometimes add to friction. Love affairs between Muslims and Christians have also sparked clashed in the past.

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