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Death toll in Cairo fires climbs to 12

[ 2011-05-09 11:08]     字号 [] [] []  
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Mobs set two churches on fire in western Cairo during clashes between Muslims and Christians triggered by rumors of an interfaith romance that left 12 dead in some of the worst sectarian violence since the ouster of the president in a popular uprising.

Egypt's prime minister canceled his visit to the Gulf on Sunday, and called for an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the violence, according to the state news agency.

Saturday night's clashes were sparked by rumors in the low-income neighborhood of Imbaba that a Christian woman married to a Muslim had been abducted and was being held in one of the churches against her will.

The report, which was never confirmed, spurred a mob from the ultraconservative Salafi trend of Islam to march on the Saint Menas Church. Christians barricaded themselves inside and around the church and the demonstrations turned violent. Gunfire sounded across the neighborhood, and witnesses said people on rooftops fired into the crowd.

Muslims accused Christians of starting the shooting, and large crowds instigated by the local Salafi religious leaders converged on the area.

They lobbed fire bombs at homes, shops and the church, setting its facade on fire.

The crowd later attacked another nearby church, the Virgin Mary Church, and set it on fire in another part of the Imbaba neighborhood.

The army and police tried to break up the crowd with tear gas, but failed to clear the streets for hours.

Residents stormed a six-story building near the Saint Menas Church, also setting it on fire, claiming the Christians used it to shoot at Muslims. . Egypt's state news agency said six Muslims and three Christians were killed. The body of one Christian was found inside the church. The religion of a 10th victim was not clear. Hisham Sheiha, a Health Ministry official, told the news agency that 186 were injured, including 11 in critical condition from gunshot wounds.


1. How many people died?

2. What ultraconservative Islamic group was involved?

3. How many people were injured?


1. 12

2. Salafi

3. 186


(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Death toll in Cairo fires climbs to 12

About the broadcaster:

Death toll in Cairo fires climbs to 12

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.