Angry Coptic Christians clashed with police on Sunday as they demanded more protection for Egypt's Christians following a New Year's Day church bombing that killed 21 of their brethren.
Hundreds of members of Egypt's large Christian minority protested in Cairo and Alexandria, the northern city where the presumed suicide bomber detonated a device outside a church during a midnight service.
(Demonstrators run past a line of riot police during a protest against Saturday's bomb attack, near the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria.)
A security source said Egypt was holding seven people for questioning over Saturday's bombing, which also wounded 97 people, and had released 10 others, Reuters news agency said.
At Saint Mark's Cathedral, the Cairo base of Orthodox Pope Shenouda, several hundred young Copts fought police on Sunday as they tried to leave the cathedral grounds and take to the streets to demand more protection for Christians.
(Egyptian Christian women protest during the visit of Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb to offer condolences to Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Egypt, over a bomb blast that occurred on New Year's Day in Alexandria, at al-Abasseya Cathedral in Cairo.)
Their protest continued into the night, the crowd held back by a cordon of riot police nine men deep. A church official approached the crowd briefly to try to calm them down, without success.
Earlier, protestors in Cairo had heckled government officials who visited the cathedral compound to offer condolences.
(Demonstrators shout pro-Christian slogans while burning rubbish during a protest in front of riot police near the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Two Saints where Saturday's bomb attacks took place in Alexandria.)
Some protesters pelted a minister's car with stones when he left, witnesses said. Some visiting Christian officials had cars shaken by angry demonstrators, while other protesters scuffled with police outside the compound.
Extra police officers were posted outside several churches in Cairo and Alexandria on Sunday, preventing cars from parking next to the buildings, witnesses said.
(Riot police run after Coptic Orthodox demonstrators who were attempting to enter the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Two Saints where Saturday's bomb attack took place in Alexandria.)
Egyptian officials said there were indications that "foreign elements" were behind the blast and that it seemed to have been the work of a suicide bomber.
Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the head of al Azhar, Egypt's most prestigious seat of Sunni learning, visited the Muslim Orthodox Coptic Pope Shenouda to express condolences.
(Egyptian Christians surround a vehicle carrying Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb after he offered his condolences to Pope Shenouda III.)
President Hosni Mubarak, 82, has pledged to track down the culprit. He made a televised address on Sunday calling for national unity, saying the attack was directed at all Egyptians, not just Christians.
The Copts are the biggest Christian community in the Middle East and account for up to 10 per cent of Egypt's 80 million population.
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