Attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Egypt continued for a second day Thursday, the country’s state-run news agency said, as Muslim Brotherhood supporters torched a church in a province outside of Cairo.
Egypt's MENA agency said supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi set fire to the Prince Tadros church in the province of Fayoum, where three similar attacks occurred on other churches the day before.
Ishaq Ibrahim from The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group, documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country on Wednesday. Violence across Egypt in the past two days has left at least 638 dead and 4,200 injured, according to Health Ministry figures.
Looking to crack down on church-related attacks, Egyptian authorities on Thursday referred 84 people in Suez, some Muslim Brotherhood protesters, to military prosecutors on charges of murder and burning churches, the MENA news agency said, Reuters reports.
The attacks drew a sharp rebuke from State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who said they “risk further aggravating an already fragile atmosphere.”
“We are outraged and deplore in the strongest terms the reprehensible attacks of the past few days against numerous Coptic Christian churches,” Psaki said during a Thursday briefing. “There can be absolutely no place for such violence in Egypt, and we call on all of Egypt's leaders to condemn such attacks.”
“The government has a responsibility to create an atmosphere where Egyptians can exercise their universal rights, including free assembly, expression, and media,” she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.