Violence out of control in Egypt. Over 700 dead. Upwards of 40 churches burned.

Map of attacks on Egyptian Christians (USA Today graphic),

Map of attacks on Egyptian Christians (USA Today graphic),

(Schroon Lake, New York) — More than 700 people have been killed this week in violence on the streets of Egypt as Muslim Brotherhood forces battle with the Egyptian military for control. At the same time, the Brotherhood has unleashed attacks on Egyptian Christians. Some reports say at least 25 churches have been torched, while at least one report puts the number at more than 40 churches.

Forgive me for not being more prompt on reporting on this. I’ve been on vacation this week in the Adirondack Mountains with my family, teaching at the Word of Life Inn & Family Camp.

Here is a summary of the latest developments. I’ll report more when I get back to Washington tomorrow. I also hope to do a podcast on the situation in Egypt very soon. In the meantime, please be praying for peace and stability, and pray for courage and boldness for the believers in Egypt during this horrific time.

“Egypt’s capital descended into chaos Friday as vigilantes at neighborhood checkpoints battled Muslim Brotherhood-led protesters denouncing the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and a deadly crackdown,” reports the Associated Press. “The fiercest street clashes Cairo has seen in more than two years of turmoil left at least 82 people dead, including 10 policemen.”

“The sight of residents firing at one another marked a dark turn in the conflict, as civilians armed with pistols and assault rifles fought protesters taking part in what the Muslim Brotherhood called a “Day of Rage” — ignited by anger at security forces for clearing two sit-in demonstrations Wednesday that sparked nationwide clashes,” AP noted. “Military helicopters circled overhead as residents furious with the Brotherhood protests pelted marchers with rocks and glass bottles. The two sides also fired on one another, sparking running street battles throughout the capital’s residential neighborhoods.”

“Across the country, at least 72 civilians were killed, along with 10 police officers, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations,” reported AP. “Friday’s violence capped off a week that saw more than 700 people killed across the country — surpassing the combined death toll from two and a half years of violent protests since the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak until the toppling of Morsi in a July 3 coup.”

Meanwhile, “Egypt’s Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against  churches, businesses and homes they say were carried out by angry supporters of  ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi,” reports Agence France Presse. “As police dispersed Morsi supporters from two Cairo squares on Wednesday, attackers torched churches across the country in an apparent response.”

“People are terrified; no one dares leave home,” Marco, a 27-year-old  engineer, told AFP by phone from the central city of Sohag.

“The city has become a ghost town, he said, describing an atmosphere of terror where attackers ‘know where the Copts live’ and torched several churches before  turning to homes,” reported AFP. “The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic Christian youth movement, denounced what it  called a ‘retaliation war’ against the religious minority, which makes up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population. The group accused Morsi supporters of targeting them in response to Coptic  Pope Tawadros II’s support for the July 3 coup that ousted the Islamist  leader. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a local NGO, says at  least 25 churches were torched on Wednesday and Thursday, and that attackers  also targeted Christian schools, shops and homes across all 27 provinces.”

To see the USA Today graphic with a map of where the most recent attacks on Christians have been occurring in Egypt, please click here.