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One dead in Egyptian clashes

08 April 2013, 10:26

Cairo - One person has been killed in clashes at Cairo's Coptic cathedral after funeral prayers for four Christians during which angry Copts chanted against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, an official said.

Also on Sunday, fighting between Christians and Muslims erupted anew in a town north of the Egyptian capital where sectarian violence killed five people on Friday, including the four Coptic Christians, police said.

The bitter clashes underscore the simmering tensions in a divided Egypt that has seen violent confrontations between Morsi's main Islamist allies and a wide-ranging opposition.

They also highlight sectarian tensions that have been brewing for several years.

Morsi, in a call to Coptic Pope Tawadros II, late on Sunday condemned the violence.

He ordered "an immediate investigation" into the clashes and condemned the clashes at the cathedral as "an attack on myself", according to a statement published by the official MENA news agency.

He also affirmed that "the protection of all citizens, Muslims and Christians, is the responsibility of the state".

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief who met with Morsi and other leaders in Cairo Sunday, said she was "extremely worried about the violent incidents."

"On hearing the news I immediately contacted the Presidency, strongly urging restraint and for the security forces to control the situation," Ashton said in a statement.

Witnesses to the Cairo clashes said they began when mourners were pelted with stones by residents of the area as they left the cathedral, symbol of the Coptic community which has long complained of discrimination and marginalisation.



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