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Egypt probes fatal violence between troops, Copts

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-10-11 09:18

CAIRO - Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) held on Monday an urgent meeting on Sunday's fatal clashes and commissioned Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's cabinet to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the incident.

Offering his condolences to the families of those killed in the clashes, SCAF chairman Hussein Tantawi said in a statement that the clashes between protestors and military forces outside the state television building in downtown Cairo were inflamed by unknown culprits who "turned a peaceful march into violence."

Tantawi affirmed the ruling military council will remain fully committed to its planned roadmap for peaceful transition of power.

The government decided to submit a draft for licensing the existing worshiping buildings to the jurisdictions committee in the cabinet, official MENA news agency reported.

A new item about anti-discrimination will be added to the penal code.

The National Justice Committee of the cabinet council was assigned to quickly draw a unified law for the construction of worshipping houses, to be approved within two weeks.

Meanwhile, the military prosecution started on Monday investigations into 25 suspects, who participated in vandalism acts, attacked armed forces personnel and set fire on army vehicles, the agency quoted an official as saying.

On Sunday night, peaceful demonstrations turned into clashes between protestors and security forces, leaving at least 25 dead and 329 injured.

In a brief televised speech in the early hours on Monday, Sharaf urged Egyptians to keep united against plots of internal and external forces to undermine Egypt's national security and relations between army and civilians, Muslims and Copts.

Copts account for about one tenth of Egypt's total population of around 80 million. Tensions between Christians and Muslims sometimes occur due to the construction of churches or conversions.

The conflict was the most violent since the fall of ex- president Hosni Mubarak in February after 18 days of mass anti- government protests. It came as Egypt is bracing for the parliamentary elections scheduled to start on November 28. The date of presidential polls is yet to be announced.

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