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

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

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

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

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

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