CAIRO – Massive clashes raged Sunday in downtown Cairo, drawing Christians angry over a recent church attack, hard-line Muslims and Egyptian security forces. At least 19 people were killed and more than 150 injured in the worst sectarian violence since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.

The violence lasted late into the night, bringing out a deployment of more than 1,000 security forces and armored vehicles to defend the state television building along the Nile, where the trouble began.

The clashes spread to nearby Tahrir Square, drawing thousands of people to the vast plaza that served as the epicenter of the protests that ousted Mubarak.

On Sunday night, they battled each other with rocks and firebombs, some tearing up pavement for ammunition and others collecting stones in boxes.

At one point, an armored security van sped into the crowd, striking a half-dozen protesters and throwing some into the air.

Christians blame Egypt’s ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since the ouster of Mubarak.

The Coptic Christian minority makes up about 10 percent of the country of more than 80 million people.

As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of this year’s uprising, Christians are particularly worried about the increasing show of force by the ultraconservative Islamists.

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building.

But then, they said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

One of the protesters, Essam Khalili, said some in the crowd set fire to army vehicles when they saw them hitting other protesters.

Television footage showed a military vehicle plowing into the crowd and also showed Coptic protesters attacking a soldier, while a priest tried to protect him.

One soldier collapsed in tears as ambulances rushed to the scene to take away the injured.