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A clash between Coptic Christians and Muslims left 55 injured late Saturday night in the second outbreak of sectarian violence in seven days, Egyptian interior ministry officials said.

They said that 33 Muslims and 22 Christians were injured while 28 people were arrested.

The clashes began when a small group of Muslims fired shots at hundreds of Coptic Christians staging a sit-in near the state television building. The Coptic Christians were protesting what they called negligence by the Egyptian authorities in failing to prevent last week’s street fighting that left more than a dozen people dead, more than 200 injured and two churches in flames.

At about 10 p.m. Saturday night, two Muslims fired shots at the Christians, officials said. Then groups of young men from both religions battled for hours with rocks, sticks and molotov cocktails.

Both general crime and sectarian violence have increased since the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak three months ago, as the military council running the country has struggled to rebuild the police force. A primary target of the revolution because of their past abusive practices, many police officers deserted the force or have returned timidly. Some leaders of the protests that brought down the old government suspect a counter-revolutionary conspiracy to stir up lawlessness.

On Sunday, the Coptic Christian pope told his followers to end their sit-in in the interest of preserving peace.

NYT

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