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Saturday, 8 January, 2000, 18:26 GMT
More arrests after Egypt clashes

Police in Kusheh Police have been patrolling in Kusheh since the killings


Reports from Egypt say that another 40 people have now been detained in connection with sectarian clashes in the south of the country last weekend.

The Al-Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper said the detentions took place in Kusheh and nearby Dar es-Salam, the two areas affected by the violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians.

Twenty people - all but one of them Christian - were killed in the clashes, which broke after a dispute in a shop on 31 December.

Prosecutor returns

The interior ministry said on Thursday that two Muslims from Kusheh had been arrested for allegedly murdering eight Copts, and another two were arrested for the alleged murder of one Copt.


Funeral Christian villagers attend the funeral of some of those killed

Meanwhile, Hisham Saraya, the prosecutor at the state security court heading the investigation, returned to Cairo on Friday after spending four days in Kusheh questioning people about the events, Al-Akhbar said.

A massive security force backed by armoured vehicles remained on every street corner in Kusheh and was "to arrest people suspected of having fueled the violence," the newspaper said.

The Copts are Orthodox Christians who form a small minority in Egypt, although they are reportedly an 80% majority in Kusheh, a town of 50,000 people about 440km (275 miles) south of Cairo.


El-Dabba Michael Habib El-Dabba Michael Habib (right) is comforted after his son was shot in Kusheh

Kusheh last came to international attention in 1998, when an Egyptian human rights group accused police of arresting hundreds of Christian villagers and torturing some of them during an investigation into the murder of two Christians.

The group believes the police were trying to find a Christian, rather than Muslim, culprit to avoid inflaming tensions between the two communities.

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04 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Funerals for victims of Egypt clashes
21 Dec 99 |  African
Can Islam and Christianity live side by side?

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