At least 13 people were killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Cairo, the Egyptian Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Some 140 people are listed as injured in the clashes which began last Friday in a village near Cairo and spread to the capital over the weekend.
A church in the Helwan governorate south of Cairo was set on fire in clashes between Muslims and Copts over alleged relationship between a Muslim woman and a Coptic man. Shortly after the incident, thousands of Copts took to the streets of Cairo demanding the church be rebuilt.
Tensions in Cairo turned violent late on Tuesday, when Copts blocked a highway to push for their demands. Muslims, who were angered by the traffic jam, hurled stones at the crowd. Fighting and sporadic gunfire followed.
Thousands of Coptic protestors also gathered for a sit-in outside the state television building despite the government's promise that the church would be rebuilt in its original location and at the cost of the state.
The protestors are also demanding better protection for Christians in the country, which witnessed a major attack against the Coptic minority earlier this year. At the start of 2011, a suicide bomber killed 23 people and injured dozens of others in the deadliest attack on Christians in Egyptian history.
Copts account for about 10% of Egypt's largely Muslim population.
CAIRO, March 9 (RIA Novosti)