Security forces have arrested eight people in connection with the brutal killing of four Egyptian Shias in a village south of Cairo, officials said on Tuesday, as criticism of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups surged.
“Security efforts have been increased to find the rest of the perpetrators after they fled their homes,” a security official told the national MENA news agency.
Prosecutors of the Giza province, where the incident took place, had issued arrest warrants for 15 people Monday, Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported.
On Sunday, four Egyptian Shia Muslims were killed in a gruesome attack led by a hostile mob in the village of Abu Mussalem in the Giza province.
A house where the minority Shias were meeting was surrounded by residents who told them to get out.
When they refused, a crowd of several hundred people stormed the building, beat, stabbed and dragged the Shia attendees on the streets, resulting in four deaths and many injuries.
The mob also set several houses in the village on fire.
The attack came after weeks of toxic anti-Shia rhetoric in the Egyptian media and from Sunni Islamist leaders.
The ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the popular Salafi al-Nour Party have come under heavy criticism following the attack for enticing anti-Shia rhetoric, al-Ahram said, accusations which both parties denied.
But al-Nour had issued statements warning against rising Shiism in Egypt, and sponsored anti-Shia posters on Egyptian streets.
al-Nour party poster reads: Together against the Shia. They insult the prophets, they distort the Quran, they kill Sunnis
The office of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi and the cabinet both condemned the attack against “Egyptian citizens” without mentioning the term “Shia.” Al-Nour party spokesperson also condemned the incident.
Al-Ahram had reported that during the mob attack Sunday, police showed up late and failed to intervene with the fatal beatings.
Shias are estimated as a tiny fraction of Egypt’s population of 84 million, most of whom are Sunni Muslim.