WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States is calling on the military authorities running Egypt to prosecute those behind sectarian clashes that killed at least 13 people on Wednesday.
“We have urged the Egyptian transitional government to act swiftly to bring the perpetrators of that violence to justice,” Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said when asked whether Washington had raised the issue with Cairo.
Toner told reporters that US officials were concerned about attacks on Coptic Christians and “obviously condemn the violence.”
Bloody fighting broke out late Tuesday in the working class Cairo district of Moqattam when Muslims confronted 1,000 Christians who had been blocking a main road in protest at the burning of a church last week.
The health ministry said 13 people were killed in the clashes and Father Boutros Roshdy of the Moqattam church said at least seven Coptic Christians were among the dead.
Meanwhile, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of anti-regime protests that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak, attackers armed with knives and machetes waded into hundreds of pro-democracy activists, witnesses said.
Toner called on Egyptians to “remember the sense of unity” they had when they called for Mubarak’s ouster in Cairo’s Tahrir Square a few weeks ago.
He urged them to “refrain from any kind of violence and to go back to that sense of peaceful demonstration and expression that was the hallmark of the protests that brought Mubarak out of power.”
Asked whether there were any signs the military condones the violence or might be behind it, Toner replied: “We don’t have any indications of that.”