Copts Clash With Troops in Cairo

News Brief – October 10, 2011

Coptic Christian protesters fought running battles with Egyptian security forces in Cairo on Sunday night, leaving as many as 24 dead and 200 injured.

According to Associated Press, several hundred Christians were protesting the demolition of a church. The protesters main demand was that the authorites rebuild it.

As the violence escalated the Egyptian military deployed troops and armoured vehilces to contain it.

The demonstrations began peacefully with a march on a state television station but degenerated into violence when marchers were pelted with stones by men in plainclothes.

Coptic Christians account for approximately 10% of Egypt’s population of 80 million.

In an effort to curb the escalating violence Egyptian Prime Minister Sharaf met last night with church leaders and military commanders.

“What is happening now is not clashes between Muslims and Christians but attempts to spark chaos and strife among the homeland sons,” Prime Minister Sharaf wrote on his Facebook page. “I call upon Egyptians to not respond to the calls for strife.”

His call came as Egytian authorities imposed a nightime curfew in parts of Cairo.

At least three soldiers were among the estimated 24 killed in the clashes. In addition a further 30 soldiers are thought to have been injured.

Over 800 were killed in violence earlier this year that led to the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control in the wake of Mubarak’s removal from office has since refused to hold elections, as it had earlier promised.

This in turn has led to demonstrators taking to the streets again recently with demands to reclaim the revolution.

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