An estimated 10,000 Copts marched in protest in several cities,
including to the state television in Cairo. Officials said the Copts, who
demanded the dismissal of Aswan Gov. Mustafa Sayed, blocked streets in the
capital's downtown district and soon were confronted by at least 1,000
soldiers and police officers. Later, the security forces were joined by
Witnesses said Egyptian troops employed tear gas and live fire and then
ran over protesters with their vehicles. The Christians, many of whom were
later arrested, responded with rocks
and firebombs and tried to grab the weapons of the security officers.
"This will not affect the morale of the armed forces," Egyptian military
police commander Gen. Hamdin Badin said. "We are fighters. This is a very
The Health Ministry said 24 people were killed in Cairo, at least three
of them soldiers, the biggest toll since 15 died in Muslim-Christian clashes
in Cairo in March. Christians, who comprise more than 10 percent of
Egyptians, also protested in Alexandria as well as the southern city of
Luxor, but no casualties were reported.
Copts were said to have comprised a major element in the revolt that
ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February. Since then, Coptic leaders
reported a sharp increase in attacks by Al Qaida-inspired Islamists, some of
them linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Officials have called on the Copts to end their protests as the military
imposed a nightly curfew around Cairo. On Oct. 10, the Cabinet discussed the
violence in an emergency session.
"We need unity more than ever," Information Minister Osama Heikal said.