Seven die in latest Cairo clashes, over 250 wounded

Overnight violence a blow to hopes that Egypt crisis subsiding.

By REUTERS
July 16, 2013 12:33
3 minute read.
Supporters of Mohamed Morsi in Cairo

Supporters of Mohamed Morsi in Cairo370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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CAIRO - Seven people were killed and more than 260 wounded when supporters of Mohamed Morsi clashed with the deposed president's opponents and security forces through the night as violence returned to Egypt's streets.

Two people were killed at a bridge in central Cairo where police and anti-Morsi locals clashed with some of his supporters who were blocking a route across the River Nile. Another five were killed in the Cairo district of Giza, said the head of emergency services, Mohamed Sultan.

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The street battles, which raged into the early hours of Tuesday morning, were the bloodiest since more than 50 Morsi supporters were killed a week ago. The violence overshadows attempts by the authorities to press on with a transition to full civilian rule by naming a new cabinet after the army pushed Morsi, an Islamist, out of power on July 3.

"We were crouched on the ground, we were praying. Suddenly there was shouting. We looked up and the police were on the bridge firing tear gas down on us," said pro-Morsi protester Adel Asman, 42, who was coughing, spitting and pouring Pepsi on his eyes to ease the effect of tear gas.

By sunrise calm had returned. The unrest is more localized than in the days after Morsi was toppled when 92 people died, but Egyptians still worry about the authorities' ability to restore order nearly two weeks after Morsi's removal.

"I've had enough of this chaos," said Ashraf Mohamed, who watched the clashes from a distance. "Egypt is just rubbish."

At the bridge in the early hours, young men, their mouths covered to protect them from tear gas, threw stones at police and shouted pro-Morsi and anti-military slogans, as well as "Allahu Akbar!" (God is greatest).



Military helicopters hovered overhead and police vans were brought in to quell the trouble, but when that didn't work, dozens of riot police moved in. Medics treated men with deep gashes to their eyes and faces nearby.

Millions of Egyptians rallied for Morsi's resignation on June 30. The military said it deposed him to fulfil the wish of the people. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood said it was a coup.

"It's the army against the people, these are our soldiers, we have no weapons," said Alaa el-Din, a 34-year-old computer engineer, clutching a laptop during the melee.

"The army is killing our brothers, you are meant to defend me and you are attacking me. The army turned against the Egyptian people."

Egypt has become increasingly polarized by the crisis, but one thing the two sides share is a deep mistrust of the United States and its perceived role in the unrest.

MARCHES IN CAIRO AND BEYOND

Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters gathered late on Monday at the Rabaa Adawiya mosque in northeastern Cairo, where they have staged a sit-in vigil for the last three weeks vowing to stay until Morsi is reinstated.

Another large crowd rallied outside Cairo University, and there were protests in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile city of Assiut. There also were minor clashes in Giza, home of the pyramids, just outside Cairo.

The army warned demonstrators that it would respond with "the utmost severity and firmness and force" if they approached military bases or "vital state institutes."

At least 92 people were killed in the days after Morsi was toppled, more than half of them shot by troops outside the Republican Guard compound near the Rabaa mosque on July 8. Protests since then had been tense but peaceful.

The political turmoil and unrest in major cities has also fuelled violence in Egypt's lawless North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Attacks in the area have killed 13 people, mainly police, since July 3. In the latest, suspected Islamist militants fired grenades at a bus carrying workers from a factory in the Sinai city of El Arish on Monday, killing three and wounding 17.

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