CAIRO, EGYPT -- Egypt's military leadership held talks Thursday, March 10, with Christian protesters demanding more security, after Muslims burned a church sparking clashes that killed 13 people and injured about 140 others, officials said.
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"A dialog has started between a group of young Copts and priests with the leaders of the army, over demonstrators' claims in order to put an end to the sit-in," state television said in a statement.
The clashes erupted this week in a 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, witnesses said.
Egypt's health ministry said 13 people were killed in the clashes, and Priest Boutros Roshdy of the Moqattam church estimated that at least seven Coptic Christians were among the dead.
The tensions began March 4 and March 5 when a Muslim mob attacked the 'Church of the Two Martyrs St. George and St. Mina' and burned it down, almost killing the parish priest, according to local Christians.
News reports said the attack in Sool, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the capital Cairo, came after local imam Sheik Ahmed Abu Al-Dahab, issued a call to "Kill all the Christians."
After demolishing the church, the group of Muslims held prayers at the site and began collecting money to build a mosque where the church building once stood, said the assistant bishop of Giza, Reverend Balamoun Youaqeem, explained in published remarks.
Christians said the attack came after reports of an affair between a Muslim and a Copt. Earlier this month, Sool villagers accused a Muslim woman and a Coptic man, both married, of being involved with each other.
Christian rights activists said Copts in Sool have fled to adjacent villages.
Youaqeem claimed that women who remained in the village are now being sexually assaulted.
The bloodshed came as a setback for Christian and Muslim leaders who had hoped to prevent renewed religious tensions in the predominantly Islamic country.
Several Christians and Muslims were seen demonstrating in Cairo against the regime of the, now ousted, President Hosni Mubarak.
Most of Egypt's Christian minority are Copts, who comprise some 10 percent of Egypt's mainly Muslim population of over 80 million.
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