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Bethlehem holds mass for Egyptian Christians

Oct. 14, 2011 5:16 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 15, 2011 7:07 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Reuters) -- Dozens of Palestinian Christians attended a mass in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday in honor of the 25 people killed in Egypt in clashes between Christian protesters and military police.

In the worst violence since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February, armored vehicles sped into a crowd on Sunday during a protest over an attack on a Coptic church. Online videos showed mangled bodies, and activists said some people were crushed by wheels.

Coptic priest Father Antonio Alurashalimi said dozens of Palestinian Christians came to the ceremony because they strongly sympathized with the families of Christians in Egypt who have lost their lives.

"The young people have come today to express their feelings and emotions regarding the Copts who have lost their lives, the martyrs," he said from the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.

"They are here to comfort their families following this painful event, I would say it was a disgraceful event that should have never happened," he said.

Amnesty International said some of the dead had bullet wounds. A doctor at a Christian hospital had told reporters on Monday that 14 of the 17 dead brought in to his hospital had been hit by bullets.

The army was praised when it took control after Mubarak was ousted for its restraint in handling protests. But anger at the military has mounted as the transition to civilian rule has dragged on and for what activists say are increasingly tough tactics.
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