“Extremists” were behind the destruction of a makeshift village church in Upper Egypt, said a local Coptic bishop on Thursday (12 May).

“St. Mary’s Church in the village of Esmaelia al-Bahreia was burned down completely after an attack carried out by extremists,” said Bishop Macarius of Minya, referring to the “tent church” 6km north of Minya City (245km south of Cairo).

“The makeshift church has been used for worship for over a year … since a proper church is yet to be authorised by the government since 2009,” the bishop wrote on Facebook.

Egyptian media, which reported that the fire in the small hours of Thursday morning had consumed the flimsy 180-square-metre wooden structure, said an “electric short-circuit” was behind the incident.

Christians complain of restrictions on churches, and have long been calling for a law to give them the same privileges as Muslim places of worship, which face no difficulties from the government.

In August 2013 alone, dozens of churches and Christian properties were torched in Minya by Islamic extremists. Some have since been rebuilt.