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Firecrackers set off unrest at Nazareth church

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A man, accompanied by two others, entered a Nazareth church Friday and began throwing firecrackers, an Israeli police spokesman said.

Hearing the blast, locals rushed to the Church of the Annunciation, where they scuffled with police and blocked ambulance workers.

The man, who was injured, and two ambulance workers were trapped in the church for hours after protesters barred them from leaving.

The crowd relented and finally allowed an ambulance to take the injured man away, police said.

Police described him as "peculiar" and said he suffers from "severe financial hardship." Authorities said he was upset because he was not being allowed to see his children from a previous marriage.

The man, who is Jewish, was accompanied by his wife, a Christian, and their daughter to the church, according to police.

Five people also were in shock as a result of the blast, the police spokesman said.

The mayor of Nazareth and other leaders talked to members of the crowd, calmed them down and got them to disperse.

Israeli police did not give an estimate of how many people were involved.

Israeli television showed the crowd milling aimlessly around, with a few people pushing each other and police hitting others with batons. At least two tear gas grenades were tossed, according to the video.

Christians revere the Nazareth church because they believe it is where the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would become the mother of Jesus Christ.

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