Monday, 10 October 2011

24 dead in Copt clashes, Egypt PM appeals for calm

 Updated at: 0749 PST,  Monday, October 10, 2011
24 dead in Copt clashes, Egypt PM appeals for calm CAIRO: A curfew was imposed overnight in Egypt's capital after 24 people, mostly Coptic Christians, died in clashes with security forces in the deadliest violence since president Hosni Mubarak's fall.

More then 200 people were injured in fighting that erupted during a protest by Copts on Sunday, prompting a curfew in central Cairo, said official statements broadcast on public television.

At least five of the dead were mown down by a speeding army vehicle, a priest from the minority Coptic community said, while an correspondent saw other bodies with gunshot wounds.

Some activists blamed government-backed provocation for the bloodshed which has triggered fears of worsening sectarian strife.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appealed for Egypt's Muslims and Christians "not to give in to sedition because it is a fire which burns up everybody".

As the military police gave assurances that calm had returned to the capital, Sharaf warned on public television that Egypt was "in danger" following the most serious clashes since Mubarak was ousted in February.

Sharaf, appointed by the military council that took power after mass protests led to Mubarak's downfall, heads a caretaker government ahead of elections the council has pledged will be democratic.

A 2:00 am (0000 GMT) to 7:00 am curfew was declared in the area from Maspero to Abbassiya square, while security was stepped up around parliament and other official buildings in central Cairo. (AFP)

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