UN rights urges independent probe on Egypt clashes

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The UN human rights office on Tuesday urged Egyptian authorities to ensure that any probes into clashes which killed 25 people, mostly Coptic Christians, be conducted in an impartial and independent manner.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed regret over the deaths, and called on the authorities to "ensure the protection of all, including minority groups, in their rightful exercise" of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

"We urge the authorities to ensure the impartiality and independence of any investigation undertaken into the incident," he said.

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had tasked Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's government to immediately form a fact-finding panel to investigate Sunday's clashes in central Cairo, which killed 25 people and left over 300 injured.

Coptic demonstrators had taken to the streets to denounce an earlier attack on a church in the southern city of Aswan, before the protest degenerated into violence.

State television accused the Coptic demonstrators of firing shots that killed three army troops, prompting fights between Christians and Muslims later that night.

But furious Copts said the security forces attacked the demonstrators, driving vehicles into the crowd and crushing several protesters.

© 2011 AFP

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