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A total of 12 die, 232 injured in clashes between Muslims, Christians in Cairo

RIA Novosti

17:14 08/05/2011

CAIRO, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - A total of 12 people died, with another 232 were injured in clashes between Muslims and Christians outside a church near the Egyptian capital Cairo, Egypt's Health Ministry reported on Sunday.

Previous reports put the death toll at ten people.

The clashes started on Saturday evening after some 4,000 radical Muslim Salafists attacked the St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo's northwestern suburb Imbaba to free a Christian woman they claimed was held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam.

Later, the local authorities said the woman had not been held in the church.

The clashes were stopped by police and the military.

Egyptian television said unknown assailants set fire to another church in Imbaba after the clashes near the St. Mena Church. The fire was put out.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gumaa denounced the clashes and called on Egyptians to do everything possible to avoid interfaith confrontation.

Muslims account for some 90% and Christians for about 10% of Egypt's 80-million population.

Relations between the two communities are sometimes darkened by acts of violence, often over Muslims' claims that Christian women who converted to Islam were kidnapped and forcibly held by Copts.

The Christian minority complains of unfair treatment in the country.

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