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13 Christians Killed in Clashes with Muslims in Cairo

Thirteen people were killed Tuesday in a clashes between Muslims and Christian Copts in Cairo, and at least 140 others were wounded.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 3/9/2011, 3:26 PM / Last Update: 3/9/2011, 3:39 PM

Thirteen people were killed Tuesday in a clashes between Muslims and Christian Copts in Cairo and at least 140 others were wounded by nightfall, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry.

The two groups clashed in the areas of Moqattam, the Citadel and Sayeda Aisha, according to Sherif Zamel, head of emergency services.

Coptic spokesmen told news media at least six Christians were shot dead and 45 others were wounded. They placed the cause of the clash on a feud between two families, Muslim and Coptic, that resulted last week in the burning of a Coptic church in Helwan province.

The feud started when a Christian man fell in love with a Muslim woman in the town of Sol.

The Coptic Shahedain (Two Martyrs) church in the town was burned down on Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, after clashes that left two people dead.

“Problems escalated in the village when a group of Muslims headed to the burned-out church and conducted a mass Islamic prayer there,” Maged Ibrahim, a local Christian, explained in an interview broadcast on Egyptian state television.

The destruction was followed by a mass demonstration in Moqattam as at least 1,000 Coptic Christians this week took to the streets in protest.

Muslims opened fire on the demonstrators, according to Samann Ibrahim, a priest quoted by AFP. He also said that Muslims firebombed local houses and workplaces and hurled rocks at the protesters from both sides of the street. Soldiers at the scene just added to the chaos, firing into the air to try and bring the crowd under control.

Earlier in the day, Copts protested in the central part of the capital as well.

The day before, at least 2,000 angry Christians had massed in central Cairo demanding their burnt church be rebuilt and that those guilty of the crime be brought to justice. 

The interim military government said Monday it would rebuild the Sol church and prosecute those responsible for its destruction.

In January alone, 24 Coptic Christians were killed by radical Islamists.

On January 1, 23 people were killed when a Coptic church was bombed in Alexandria. The al-Qaeda-linked Palestinian Islamic Army terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the slaughter. Ten days later a Coptic Christian man was murdered and five others were wounded by a gunman on a train. Also in January, the daily Al Ahram newspaper reported a man was sentenced for his part in an attack on a Coptic church a year ago. 

Fewer than 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million citizens are Coptic Christians, and they have often been targeted by the country's Muslims. The Coptic community has accused the nation's Muslim government of discriminating against it.