Cairo: Two people were killed on Saturday in a gunbattle that erupted in Egypt’s northern city of Damietta over Facebook slurs, the online edition of Al Ahram newspaper reported.

The violence involved members of two rival families, namely Jawhar and Al Jamil, in the Al Ananiya locality of Damietta after members of the two households exchanged offensive comments on Facebook, according to the report.

An argument at a local coffee shop between members from the two families escalated into a row that saw both parties resorting to the use of firearms, the paper said, citing security sources.

Two men were killed and five injured in the exchange of fire.

Angry relatives of the dead blocked a main road in the area in protest.

Anti-riot security forces cordoned off the village as police launched a manhunt for the suspected killers.

Social media has become popular in Egypt in recent years, playing a major role in mobilising the 2011 uprising that forced long-time president Hosny Mubarak out of power.

Around 22.4 million people or a quarter of Egypt’s population have Facebook accounts, according to independent figures.