CLASHES that broke out when a Muslim mob attacked thousands of Christians protesting the burning of a Cairo church killed at least 13 people and injured about 140, officials said today.

The Muslims torched the church amid an escalation of tensions over a love affair between a Muslim and a Christian that set off a violent feud between the couple’s families.

The officials said all 13 fatalities died of gunshot wounds.

The clashes yesterday added to a sense of ongoing chaos in Egypt after the momentous 18-day democracy uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak on February 11. The uprising left a security vacuum after police pulled out of Cairo and several other cities three days into the uprising.

The police have yet to fully take back the streets, leaving space for a wave of violent crime and lawlessness in some parts of the nation.

In a separate incident, at least two people were injured when rival crowds pelted each other with rocks at Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, the uprising’s epicentre.