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10 Killed in Egypt Sectarian Clashes

Published on Wednesday 9th March 2011

Egypt's health ministry says at least 10 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians in the capital, Cairo, Tuesday.It was not immediately clear how many of the victims were Christian or Muslim, though earlier reports said as many as six Christians had been killed by gunfire.The health ministry said 110 people were wounded in the violence. Officials say the clashes erupted after at least 1,000 Christians gathered to protest the burning of a church in a Cairo suburb last week. One group of Christians blocked a main highway south of the capital. Both sides threw rocks, and riot police fired shots in the air in an effort to break up the crowds. Another crowd of hundreds of protesters - including a group of garbage collectors who are predominantly Christian, demonstrated outside the main television building in central Cairo, demanding equal rights. Many carried tall wooden crosses.Christians initiated the protests after local Muslims set fire to a church in the outskirts of the capital following a conflict between two families, reportedly over a relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.Video clip: Egypt clash

Egypt's military rulers promised Tuesday to rebuild the church and prosecute the attackers. But Christians complain the military has been slow to move and reluctant to anger Muslims living in the community. Newly appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf met Monday with local Christians protesting the attack.Even before Egypt's pro-democracy uprising, tensions had been growing between Christians and Muslims in the North African country. On New Year's Day, a suicide bombing outside a Coptic church in the port city of Alexandria killed 21 people, setting off days of protests. Barely a week later, an off-duty policeman boarded a train and shot a 71-year-old Christian man, killing him and wounding his wife and four others.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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