At least 24 people have been killed and more 200 injured in the centre of Cairo after a protest over an attack on a church erupted into the worst violence since the 18-day uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak as president of Egypt in February.
Trouble began when a demonstration against the attack in southern Egypt was reportedly met by gunfire close to the state television building.
Fighting spread to Tahrir Square and surrounding streets. Hospitals where the wounded were being treated also came under attack.
State television announced that a curfew was being imposed on the city’s downtown area and Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the February uprising that overthrew the former president. The curfew would last from 2am to 7am (midnight to 5am GMT) on Monday.
Appealing for calm after more than 1,000 security force personnel were deployed, interim prime minister Essam Sharaf said: “What is taking place are not clashes between Muslims and Christians but attempts to provoke chaos and dissent.”
“The only beneficiary of these events and acts of violence are the enemies of the January revolution and the enemies of the Egyptian people, both Muslim and Christian”