Egyptians riot after 7 killed in church attack

Gunmen spray crowd with bullets after worshippers leave Christmas Mass

January 7 2010

CAIRO – Thousands clashed with police during a funeral procession Thursday for six of seven people killed in an attack on churchgoers leaving a midnight Mass for Coptic Christians, security officials said.

Throughout the day, protesters in the southern town of Nag Hamadi pelted police with rocks and damaged cars and stores.

Early in the day, they smashed ambulances outside a hospital in frustration over delays in turning over the bodies for burial. A security official said police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd…

…Wednesday’s attack, which happened on the holiest day in the Coptic calendar, was the worst known incident of sectarian violence in a decade.

In 2000, the deadliest Christian-Muslim clashes in years left 23 people dead. All but two of the 23 were Copts. The clashes were touched off by an argument between a Coptic merchant and a Muslim shopper in the southern village of el-Kusheh.

The latest attack, however, was unusual because it appeared to have been planned, rather than the customary spontaneous violence that arises from misunderstandings or disputes between Muslims and Copts.

The article, with video, continues at MSNBC.

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