(RNS) Egyptian officials say security forces have put an end tothree days of looting and violence between Christians and Muslims thatleft 20 people dead in southern Egypt.

Christian Coptic Bishop Wissa, whose diocese includes several of thevillages hit by the fighting, said Monday (Jan. 3) all of the dead wereChristians from the village of el-Kusheh, located about 275 miles southof Cairo, the Associated Press reported.

The Interior Ministry said 44 people had been injured in thefighting and a number of buildings and vehicles were torched.

The violence was sparked Friday (Dec. 31) by a dispute between aMuslim street vendor and a Christian shopkeeper, according to reports,and then spread to nearby villages. According to Wissa, who uses onlyone name, a church and 50 houses, shops and warehouses were burned inthe village of Awlad Toq West.

"Barbaric people carrying rifles went on a rampage and startedfiring at Christian shops and Christian houses," Wissa said.