Sectarian clashes in Egypt see use of firearms: Five people killed

Security vacuum fuels growing sectarian violence

CAIRO - Sectarian violence that erupted overnight north of Cairo killed five people, including four Christians, and left six other people wounded, an Egyptian security source said on Saturday.
The clashes, which saw the use of firearms, flared on Friday night in Al-Khusus, a poor area in Qalyubia governorate, after a Muslim in his 50s objected to children drawing a swastika on a religious institute, the source said.
The man insulted Christians and the cross, and an argument broke out with a young Christian man who was passing by, which escalated into a gun battle with assault rifles between the Muslims and the Christians.
"Five people were killed in the clashes, including four Christians. In addition to this, six others were wounded, at least two of whom were suffering gunshot wounds," the source added.
An activist from the Coptic Maspero Youth Movement, Toni Sabri, said by phone that "there are many wounded" from the Al-Mataraya Hospital, near to where the clashes took place.
A priest in Al-Khusus, Suryal Yunan, said attackers torched "parts" of an Anglican church, the official MENA news agency reported.
Muslims also set on fire a Christian home and ransacked a pharmacy owned by a Copt, a police official said.
A number of angry Muslim residents tried to surround the town's Mary Jirjis church, but the security presence in the area stopped them from doing so.
Both sides then lit tyres in the narrow streets where residents live in crowded slum housing.
"The authorities are in complete control of the town," a security official said.
Christians form between six and 10 percent of Egypt's population of nearly 83 million people.
The country's Coptic Christians and Muslims have clashed on several occasions since the revolution that toppled the former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
The clashes have killed around 50 Christians and several Muslims.