At least seven Muslims were detained in southern Egypt after setting fire to a church and shops owned by Christians in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Muslim girl, a security source said.
Police sources also said a car and a motorcycle owned by Christians were also burned and it appeared the rioters had attempted to burn the church.
Tensions have been high in the city for several days with a number of incidents threatening to escalate into sectarian clashes. Police have upgraded their presence.
The tensions appear to have started when an angry crowd of
Muslims surrounded and smashed up a Christian-owned store on Wednesday, where they suspected a Muslim girl was having sex with two Christian boys. Police beefed up security in the city after that incident.
Sunday's riot came after an altercation Saturday night that saw a Christian shop-owner accuse a Muslim woman of stealing a mobile phone from his shop. The woman was cleared by authorities and released.
The detained told police they were acting in retaliation for the alleged rape last week of a Muslim girl by three Christians boys.
The three Christians were detained on Saturday and taken to a police station where an angry crowd of about 150 Muslims gathered, hurling stones and bottles.
"The seven were also demonstrating outside the police station, then they left the protest and started setting fire to property owned by Christians," the source told AFP.
Egypt suffered its worst Christian-Muslim clashes in decades in 1999 in southern Egypt when 20 Christians were killed, 22 people wounded and scores of shops destroyed.
Last year, a 45-year-old Muslim man stabbed a Coptic
Christian man to death and wounded five others in the
Mediterranean city of Alexandria, sparking three days of sectarian clashes in which one Muslim was killed. Egypt says the attacker was mentally ill.
Christians account for up to 10 percent of the population of Egypt and relations between them and the Muslim majority are usually harmonious. Disputes, most commonly over land, religious buildings or young women, sometimes lead to violence.