Sat, Aug 17, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Egypt braced for bloody weekend as violence flares


Army armored vehicles are deployed at an entrance to Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday ahead of protests called by supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Photo: EPA

Thousands of Egyptian Islamists protested across the country yesterday, sparking clashes that killed at least six people after police were authorized to use live fire.

Gunfire was heard at the sites of at least two demonstrations in the capital, witnesses said.

Security sources said five protesters loyal to ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi were shot dead in clashes with security forces in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.

Violence was also reported elsewhere, with state media saying a policeman was killed in an armed attack on a Cairo checkpoint.

Security sources said clashes had broken out between Morsi loyalists and security forces in Tanta, north of the capital.

Marches were also reported in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, in Beni Sueif and Fayoum, south of Cairo and in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada.

“Down with military rule,” demonstrators chanted as they waved photos of Morsi and Egyptian flags.

Earlier, the army had deployed around Cairo, where streets were deserted ahead of what Morsi supporters dubbed a “Friday of anger.”

Soldiers manned roadblocks on major thoroughfares, closing off some of them with armored personnel carriers.

The demonstrations come after 578 people were killed on Wednesday in clashes in Cairo as police cleared two Morsi protest camps and elsewhere in the country, in Egypt’s bloodiest day in decades.

The Egyptian Ministry of the Interior gave orders on Thursday for police to use live fire if government buildings come under attack.

Residents of some areas formed their own roadblocks, checking identity papers and searching cars.

The international community expressed grave concern, with the president of the UN Security Council pleading for “maximum restraint” after an emergency meeting on Wednesday’s violence.

The EU said yesterday that top officials would hold an emergency meeting on the situation in Egypt, where the army-installed government has imposed a state of emergency and nighttime curfews.

Sporadic violence continued throughout the country in the form of attacks on security personnel, with 13 killed in the Sinai Peninsula in 24 hours.

Gehad al-Haddad, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, announced yesterday’s marches on his Twitter account.

“Anti-coup rallies ... will depart from all mosques of Cairo and head towards Ramsis Square after [noon] prayer in ‘Friday of Anger,’” he wrote.

On Thursday, Tamarod, the protest group that organized opposition to Morsi’s rule, also urged Egyptians to take to the streets.

It said they should rally “to reject domestic terrorism and foreign interference.”

The international community expressed concern, with the EU announcing top representatives from all 28 member states would meet on Monday.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Egypt, calling for an end to the violence and “national reconciliation.”

US President Barack Obama said Washington was canceling a joint US-Egyptian military exercise.

However, despite scrapping the Bright Star exercise, which has been scheduled every two years since 1981, he stopped short of suspending Washington’s annual US$1.3 billion in aid.

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