25 killed as violence in Egypt resumes
Security officials say clashes between Christian protesters and Egyptian security forces have resumed, with hundreds pelting the police with rocks outside a central Cairo hospital.world Updated: Oct 11, 2011 02:21 IST
Security officials say clashes between Christian protesters and Egyptian security forces have resumed, with hundreds pelting the police with rocks outside a central Cairo hospital.
At least 24 people were killed when Christians, angered by a recent church attack, clashed Sunday night with Muslims and security forces outside the state television building in central Cairo.
The officials say Monday's clashes took place outside a Cairo hospital where bodies of Christian victims were kept.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, had no word on casualties.
The latest violence comes hours before funeral services for the victims were to be held at the Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo.
Deadly clashes between angry Christians, Muslims and security forces have dealt a serious setback to Egypt's transition to civilian rule, the country's prime minister said Monday, hours after 24 people were killed in the worst violence since the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said the violence, which also left 272 wounded, was part of a "dirty conspiracy" and called on Egyptians to unite in the face of what he called meddling by foreign and domestic hands in their nation's affairs.
"These events have taken us back several steps," Sharaf said in a televised address. "Instead of moving forward to build a modern state on democratic principles, we are back to seeking stability and searching for hidden hands - domestic and foreign - that meddle with the country's security and safety."
A military council led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, defense minister of 20 years under the former regime, took over after an 18-day popular uprising forced Mubarak to step down.
The military initially pledged to hand back power to a civilian administration in six months, but that deadline has gone by, with parliamentary elections now scheduled to start in late November. According to a timetable floated by the generals, presidential elections could be held late next year.
Christians, who make up about 10% of Egypt's 80 million people, blame the country's ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak's ouster.
As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of the uprising, the Coptic Christian minority is particularly worried about the show of force by ultraconservative Islamists.
Sunday's violence will likely prompt the military to further tighten its grip on power.