At least five people died in violence outside a church north of Cairo on Friday evening.
Four of those killed were Victor Mankarious (35) who died of a gunshot wound to the head, Morcos Kamel (25) and Essam Zachary (37) who were shot in the heart, and Marzouk Nessim (45) who was shot in the face and back, said Al-Ahram.
Bishoy Tamri of the Maspero Youth Union claimed at least three people were hospitalised with bullet wounds.
The Health Ministry put the death toll at five on Saturday afternoon. Father Suriel Younan, who works under Bishop Boutros of the Shebin Al-Qanater diocese, told state-owned Al-Ahram that eight people were killed and 20 injured.
Violence broke out in the city of Al-Khasous on Friday night after a young man allegedly drew a cross on the walls of an Azhari institute.
An ensuing argument and brawl led to a Christian killing a Muslim, spurring some Muslim residents to take retributive action against the man and other Christians, attempting to burn down the alleged killer’s house and to attack the local church.
The director of security in Qaliubiya, Major General Mahmoud Yousry, denied that a cross had been drawn on the wall of the institution, saying it was normal for Muslim children to draw on those walls.
Yousry confirmed the death of a Muslim man, and said that police stopped members of the deceased’s family from storming the residence of the Christian allegedly responsible for the death.
The Ministry of the Interior has since provided security around Mar Guirguis Church, where violence broke out.
Police have arrested 15 people allegedly involved in the violence.