Egypt's prosecution orders arrest of 14 accused in Beni Suef clashes

Sayed Gamaleddine, Ahram online, Monday 12 Aug 2013

Arrest warrants are issued for 14 involved in Beni Suef clashes, Egypt prosecution claims fight was not sectarian

Egypt’s general prosecution ordered on Monday the arrest of 14 persons allegedly involved in the Beni Suef clashes that erupted a day before between members of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Coptic Christian residents.

The accused are to be detained for 15 days pending investigation.

According to the prosecution report, Sunday’s violence was not sectarian, as has been widely reported.

Pellet shots were fired and several houses and shops were burnt, the prosecution reported, labelling the incident as a criminal act.

Clashes in the Diabeya village in Upper Egypt's Beni Suef governorate Sunday afternoon left 15 injured and four houses and a church torched, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

According to an Ahram reporter, the clashes erupted following a confrontation between a member of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya Islamist group and a Coptic resident of the village. At the basis of the confrontation was an argument over a Copt who attempted to construct a road bump in front of his house.

Other members of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya joined the fight against Coptic residents. Security forces intervened to end the clashes and civil defence forces controlled the fires.

On Wednesday, 16 rights groups issued a joint statement expressing "grave concern regarding the increasing sectarian violence that has targeted Christians and their churches since the 30 June uprising."

Attacks against Coptic homes and churches have been reported recently in villages in Upper Egypt’s Luxor, Sohag and Minya.

A Coptic priest was shot dead in North Sinai 6 July amid a spike in armed attacks by unknown militants against the military and police in the peninsula since Mohamed Morsi's ouster.

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