Thousands of Copts clashed with Egyptian police during a funeral procession Thursday for the seven people killed in a shooting attack on churchgoers leaving a midnight Mass for Coptic Christians, security officials said. According to the AP, the rioters pelted cars with stones. Earlier, they smashed ambulances at the hospital. A security official said police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Earlier, five Coptic Christians died and 10 people injured, including two Muslims, in a drive-by shooting in front of a church in southern Egypt, security sources said Thursday. According to Reuters, the shooting attack was carried out at midnight on the Coptic Christmas eve.
The five Copts were leaving Mary Gergis Church in the city of Naga Hamady after the Christmas eve service when a car pulled up in front of the building and the assailants opened fire. Two Muslims passing the church were also hurt, security sources added. Egypt's Interior Ministry said the attack was suspected as retaliation for a recent rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town.
Coptic Christians in Egypt celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7.
Medical sources at Qena General Hospital said two of the 10 were critically wounded. All had gunshot wounds.