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.