Crisis talks in Egypt after 24 die in clashes


Egyptian Coptic Christians clash with soldiers and anti-riot police during a protest in Cairo against the attack on a church in southern Egypt in October 9, 2011.



The Egyptian Prime Minister has appealed for calm in the capital Cairo after an outbreak of violence between Coptic Christians and security forces left 24 people dead.

The government of Essam Sharaf is to hold emergency talks Monday.

The BBC reported that Sharaf described unrest between Muslims and Christians in Egypt as "a threat to the country's security". He appealed to religious groups not to give in to sedition.

An overnight curfew imposed in Cairo was lifted at 7am local time.

Analysts say Egypt’s military rulers are under pressure to give assurances about national unity.

(Read more on GlobalPost: Has Egypt's revolution become a military coup?)

Agence France Presse reported that more than 200 people have been injured in the fighting, which began when riot police were called in to break up a group of Copts protesting the burning of a church last month.

A priest from the minority Coptic community said at least five of the dead had been run down by a speeding army vehicle.

Violence also broke out between Muslims and Copts at a hospital treating the wounded.

The clashes are the most serious in Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February.