30 suspects arrested since Al-Khosous clashes: Security source

Ahram Online, MENA, Monday 8 Apr 2013

Five suspects are found in possession of weapons and crates of Molotov cocktails, says source from Qalioubiya security directorate


A source in the Qalioubiya governorate's security directorate said that 30 suspects had been apprehended in relation to Saturday's sectarian flare-up in the city of Al-Khosous, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Monday.

On Friday, Muslim-Christian clashes in Al-Khosous resulted in the death of four Coptic Christians and one Muslim.

According to the security source, five suspects had been arrested in possession of weapons and one hundred crates full of Molotov cocktails. The suspects had since been referred to Egypt's Public Prosecution for investigation, the source said.

The source added that security had been stepped up in the vicinity of Al-Khosous' Church of Mar Girgis, which had been at the epicentre of Friday's clashes.

Friday's violence has taken a toll on local businesses in Al-Khosous. Most shops in the area have temporarily closed their doors after one local shop was completely burnt down during the clashes.

Four Christians and one Muslim were killed and eight others injured in Friday's violence, Egypt’s health ministry has reported.

A Coptic priest interviewed by the private CBC satellite channel on Sunday, however, asserted that six Coptic Christians had been killed in the violence.

Friday's clashes erupted after a group of Christian youths reportedly painted offensive drawings on the gates of Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest seat of Islamic religious learning, MENA news agency reported.

The situation escalated when an unidentified individual fired a gun into the air, killing one boy with a stray bullet, Reuters reported.

In the aftermath of the violence, 15 people were arrested and police surrounded the area.

The recent spate of sectarian tension has sparked widespread condemnation by rights groups and politicians.

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb called for the adoption of measures aimed at preventing the situation from escalating further.

He also called for "preserving the national character that characterises the Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians," MENA quoted him as saying.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), meanwhile, asserted on Sunday that Saturday's clashes in Al-Khosous were a "premeditated" attempt to sow chaos in Egypt.

"In Al-Khosous, events have escalated in a suspicious manner through the orchestration of provocative situations that lead to sectarian strife," the party said.

The latest incidents, the FJP added, "are aimed at dragging the nation into chaos, [a state of affairs] from which only Egypt's enemies and their agents will benefit." 

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