| 6.1°C Belfast

Mob attacks Christian protesters


Egyptian Coptic Christians protest the recent attacks on Christians and churches (AP)

Egyptian Coptic Christians protest the recent attacks on Christians and churches (AP)

Egyptian Coptic Christians protest the recent attacks on Christians and churches (AP)

An angry mob has attacked a group of mainly Christian protesters demanding drastic measures to heal religious tension amid an increase in violence, leaving 65 people injured.

The Christian protesters have been holding their sit-in outside the state television building in Cairo for nearly a week following deadly Christian-Muslim clashes that left a church burned and 15 people dead.

More than 100 people rushed into the sit-in area, throwing rocks and fire bombs from a flyover and charging towards the few hundred protesters sleeping in the area. Vehicles were set on fire and fires burned in the middle of the street.

Police and troops fired in the air to disperse the crowd, and a tree was set on fire under the flyover.

A security official said the attackers had returned to avenge an earlier scuffle with the protesters who prevented a motorist from going through the area. A fight followed and the motorists fired blank rounds. The protesters chased the motorist and beat him.

Marc Mino, a protest organiser, told state TV the motorists had provoked the fight after refusing to be searched before entering the protest area, then provoking the protesters.

Medics said 65 were injured in Saturday night's melee, two in a critical condition. The security official said nearly 50 of the riot instigators were arrested.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Witness Alfred Raouf, said armoured vehicles later blocked traffic and pedestrians from going down from the bridge towards the protest area. The number of protesters at the sit-in shrunk, but those remaining insisted the strike would continue as their area was cordoned off by the security, Mr Raouf said.

Religious clashes and a rising wave of crime have proved to be a major challenge for Egypt's military rulers in the days following the 18-day uprising that led to the February 11 ousting of ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Following the religious violence, the military vowed to respond firmly to instigators of violence and promised to heed a number of the Christian demands, including reopening nearly 50 churches. But no trial date has been set for those responsible for the church burning or the violence last week.

Top Videos