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Egypt: 19 dead in violent clashes in Cairo

Coptic Christian protesters were attacked by unknown assailants in downtown Cairo.
Egypt coptic christians protests 10 09 11Enlarge
Hundreds of Christian Copts protested outside the state television building on October 4, 2011, after a church was burned in the southern Aswan district and demanded that the governor be sacked, the channel reported. Sectarian clashes are frequent in Egypt where Copts, who make up 10 percent of the 80-million-strong population, have been the target of attacks and have repeatedly accused the authorities of systematic discrimination. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Nineteen people - mostly Coptic Christians - were killed on Sunday after violence erupted during a protest in solidarity with Egypt's Copts, according to Agence France-Presse.

Egypt's ministry of health said that another 156 people were injured in the clashes between security forces and Copts, according to AFP.

State media reported on Sunday night that a curfew would be imposed in downtown Cairo from 2am to 7am, but did not specify for how many days.  

Violence broke out following a march by hundreds of Egypt’s minority Coptic Christians, who were protesting the torching of a church in Upper Egypt last month.

Here's one report from AFP's correspondent:

Sixteen Copts were killed in the rampage which erupted during a demonstration in the Maspero district on the Nile, the correspondent said, after counting the bodies in a Coptic hospital.Amid scenes of mayhem at the hospital filled with grieving relatives, a priest named Daud told AFP at least five of those killed were mowed down by a speeding army vehicle.

Earlier on Sunday, Egypt's state-run Nile TV International reported that as many as 3 security officers were killed during the clashes between protesters and Egyptian security in downtown Cairo.  

Witnesses told the Associated Press that protesters were attacked “by assailants firing pellets and throwing rocks” during the march.

The Associated Press reported earlier:

An Interior Ministry official at the scene told Associated Press that two people were killed in the riots on Sunday, but did not give details. A number of military vehicles were set on fire and thick black smoke rose along the Nile outside the state television building.

More from GlobalPost in Cairo: Egyptian military forcibly quells Coptic Christian protest

Several eyewitnesses described a chaotic scene with at least one instance of a vehicle running over demonstrators.

“I saw peopl get run over and get shot. I also saw an old veiled woman get smacked with a baton like me by military police,” tweeted one eyewitness to Sunday’s clashes.

State television aired live images of burning vehicles outside its main broadcasting center on the Nile River on Sunday. Protesters and police could also be seen hurling rocks at each other.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard throughout central Cairo late on Sunday evening.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/egypt-2-dead-after-violent-clashes-cairo