Christian stores burned in southern Egypt after Muslim girl allegedly sexually assaulted

Police have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Muslim protesters outside a church in southern Egypt. They were demanding an investigation into allegations a Christian man sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl.

Residents in the city of Qena say four stores owned by Coptic Christians were torched overnight after villagers accused one of the store owners of molesting the young girl.

The clashes that took place in the village of Marashda in Qena.

Residents say protesters threw stones at the local church on Friday, and police fired tear gas to scatter the crowd.

Qena security director Gen. Salah Mazid was quoted in state media saying that police are investigating the accusations against the merchant.

Flare-ups of violence between Egypt's Christian minority and Muslims have increased in the past two years.