A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on April 24, 2016 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi delivering a speech in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on officials to hold accountable the perpetrators of an attack by a Muslim mob on Christians in a village in Upper Egypt, according to a Thursday statement by his office.
El-Sisi urged the government to take "necessary measures to preserve public order, protect [citizens] and property within the rule of law."
The Friday assault in Minya's El-Karm village was sparked by rumours that a Christian man was having an illicit relationship with a Muslim woman. Interfaith pairings are considered taboo in most of the country.
Muslim villagers set ablaze seven Christian homes and assaulted the Christian man's elderly mother, parading her naked in public, the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement.
El-Sisi issued directives to the provincial governor to restore all damaged buildings in coordination with the Armed Forces within one month and at the government's expense.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said he regrets the "unfortunate" incident, adding that the matter is now in the hands of the justice system and that no perpetrators will "get away without punishment."
The interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday that police arrested five men suspected of taking part in the attack, including a main perpetrator identified as Nazir Ishaq Ahmed.
The ministry added that security forces have continued their efforts to "restore security and order" in the village, while emphasising its "full keeness to protect the lives, property and honour of all citizens.
On Wednesday, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II called for restraint and coexistence, warning against anyone who would use what happened in Minya to incite sectarian strife.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 90 million, have persistently complained of discrimination and sectarian attacks in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country.