Three women died in clashes between loyalists and opponents of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, medics said yesterday, despite warnings by the military that it would crackdown on violent protests.
“Three people were killed and seven others wounded by birdshot and stabbing attacks during clashes between Morsi supporters and his opponents,” Adel Said, a hospital official in the Nile Delta city of Mansura, told reporters.
A pro-Morsi protester injured in the clashes, speaking by telephone, said thousands of loyalists were marching through the city’s narrow streets when “thugs” attacked them with guns, knives and rocks.
Tensions are running high in Egypt more than two weeks after the army ousted the country’s first freely-elected president following massive protests calling for him to go.
Rival protests were staged in several cities on Friday, with tens of thousands rallying in Cairo to demand the Islamist leader’s reinstatement.
Before Friday’s demonstrations, the army warned that it would decisively confront any violent protesters.
Several thousand supporters of Morsi’s overthrow by the military descended on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday evening, setting off fireworks and chanting pro-army slogans.
Earlier, a vast crowd gathered at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the capital, where Morsi loyalists have camped out since the military overthrew him on July 3.
About 10,000 protesters then set off in the direction of an elite military compound, the scene of the deadliest violence since Morsi’s overthrow, carrying pictures of the deposed president and chanting slogans. However, they were blocked by soldiers and armored vehicles.
Smaller rallies took place elsewhere in Cairo and Egypt’s second city Alexandria after the Muslim Brotherhood had called for a day of protests dubbed “Breaking the Coup.”
Morsi has been held in custody since his ouster and other senior Brotherhood leaders have also been detained, prompting international concerns.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Geneva, Switzerland, and requested information about those arrested in connection with the events of July 3, her spokesman said on Friday.
The US has refrained from saying Morsi was the victim of a coup, which would legally require Washington to freeze about US$1.5 billion in US military and economic aid to Cairo.
Another major challenge facing Egypt’s new government is the security situation in the restive Sinai Peninsula, which has been rocked by deadly violence in the past two weeks.
Two civilians were killed and one wounded on Friday when militants fired rockets at an army checkpoint in el-Arish, one of several attacks in the Mediterranean town which also left one soldier injured. The army launched a major offensive earlier this week against Islamist militants in north Sinai, where at least 15 police and soldiers have been killed since Morsi’s ouster, as well as seven civilians.