Two Egyptian Christians Killed, 1,000 Policemen Deployed

( [email protected] ) Mar 08, 2004 08:51 AM EST

SOHAG, Egypt– Egyptian authorities stepped up security in a small town on Saturday to prevent violence against Christians after two Christian men were axed to death during a street brawl, March 6.

According to security sources, the Christians were murdered after a donkey being ridden by a Muslim man slipped on the wet roadway outside their house in the town of Salamoun, about 350 km (220 miles) south of Cairo. The donkey rider was later arrested and questioned. Witnesses in the town said there had been no further violence but the situation was tense.

To prevent such tragedies from reoccurring, the authorities deployed 1,000 police.

Salamoun is a town with about 40,000 people with close to 40 percent Coptic Christians. However, the town is also a stronghold of militant Islamics who fought the government in the 1990s. Tensions have always been high between the Muslim and Christian communities across Egypt. The last major outbreak of violence was in 1999, when 20 Christians were killed and 33 people wounded in the southern village of Kosheh.