U.S. says Egypt violence should not delay election

WASHINGTON Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:02pm EDT

1 of 3. Egyptian Christian women grieve before a mass funeral for victims of sectarian clashes with soldiers and riot police at a protest against an attack on a church in southern Egypt at Abassaiya Cathedral in Cairo October 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States called for restraint in Egypt Monday after 25 people, most of them Christian demonstrators, were killed in the worst violence since Hosni Mubarak was toppled as president in February.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States "stands with the Egyptian people" and believes the rights of minorities, including the Copts, must be respected as Egypt moves toward democracy.

"These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive," Carney said in a statement.

Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's roughly 80 million people, took to the streets after blaming Muslim radicals for partially demolishing a church in Aswan province last week.

At least 25 people were killed when Egyptian troops crushed the protest. Some of the demonstrators said agitators sparked violence that prompted the heavy-handed military response.

The violence has come before parliamentary elections on November 28, the first vote since the military took over. Tensions between Christians and Muslims have increased since the popular uprising that ousted Mubarak.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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