Arson attacks irk Egyptian Christians

Destroyed shop of a Coptic Christian family in Egypt. (AFP)

Residents of a southern Egyptian village were furious yesterday after houses and shops owned by Coptic Christians were burnt as sectarian tensions flared up in the wake of a deadly drive-by shooting.

Muslim gunmen shot dead six Copts in the nearby town of Nagaa Hammadi on on Wednesday night as worshippers emerged from Christmas Eve mass, one of Egypt's deadliest sectarian attacks in years in which a policeman was also killed.

Yesterday, men in traditional flowing robes and with crosses tattooed on their arms surveyed the damage in Bahgura, where shopfronts that were once blue and green were now charred black after overnight arson attacks.

They charged that extremist "thugs" who live in the town went on the rampage on Friday night, lobbing fireballs into Christian-owned shops and some houses.

Muslim residents said the action was in retaliation for the shooting death of a member of their community, while Christian villagers said a woman from their community had died in fire attacks on their property.

Egyptian security sources denied there had been any deaths.

 

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