Manar Ammar and Joseph Mayton
CAIRO: Tension between Muslims and Copts is blazing in the southern town of Edfu after two residential buildings were set on fire, eye witnesses from the town said Friday.
The clashes started early Friday after a group of Muslim men surrounded the Mare’e Girgues church in opposition to construction expansions happening inside the church. A number of the men reportedly attempted to attack the building.
Others say others set parts of the church on fire, before turning to Coptic homes and shops in the town.
Residents said the Muslim men are attempting to prevent fire fighters from reaching the burned out buildings and several shops owned by Copts were vandalized.
Reports have not yet mentioned if there were injuries or deaths as a result of the violence.
This is the third incidents in two days that targets Coptic churches in Egypt after violence in Fayoum, south of Cairo, claimed one life after a man guarding a church was shot dead by militants who then fled the scene.
Security sources on Thursday afternoon said that a drive-by shooting in Fayoum left at least one security guard dead.
The attack apparently was outside the church’s kindergarten.
Details of the attack on the Rouda Church in the town are still murky, but according to one witness nearby, the attackers drove past the church and opened fire, in what is the most recent attack that could spark renewed fears of sectarianism in Egypt.
“I just heard the gun shots and saw that one guard was on the ground in obvious pain,” said Mona, a witness nearby.
In recent years, sectarianism has been reportedly on the rise, with both religious groups clashing in numerous towns and villages across Egypt.
This week’s incidents highlight the growing chasm that exists between the two religious groups.