Islamist protests hit cities across Egypt, at least 24 dead

Protesters who are against former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi throw stones at pro-Mursi supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo July 5, 2013. Islamist allies of ousted president Mursi called on people to protest on Friday to express outrage at his overthrow by the army and to reject a planned interim government backed by their liberal opponents.  REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Protesters who are against former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi throw stones at pro-Mursi supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo July 5, 2013. Islamist allies of ousted president Mursi called on people to protest on Friday to express outrage at his overthrow by the army and to reject a planned interim government backed by their liberal opponents. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

At least 24 people died across Egypt on Friday as Islamists opposed to the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi took to the streets to vent their fury at what they say was a military coup.

Fierce clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria left 12 dead and 200 injured, while in Cairo, five people were killed as pro- and anti-Mursi protesters ran amok in central areas and armored personnel carriers rumbled among them to restore calm.

Five police officers were gunned down in separate incidents in the North Sinai town of El Arish, and while it was not clear whether the attacks were linked to Mursi’s ouster, hardline Islamists there have warned they would fight back.

Tens of thousands of people marched across the country in what Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called a “Friday of Rage” to demonstrate against his overthrow and the army-backed interim government being set up to prepare for new elections.

A new prime minister could be named as early as Saturday.

Egypt’s first freely elected president was toppled on Wednesday, the latest twist in a tumultuous two years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011.

The events of the last week have aroused concern among Egypt’s allies in the West, including key donors the United States and the European Union, and in neighboring Israel, with which Egypt has had a U.S.-backed peace treaty since 1979.

Friday’s fatalities added to the dozens of deaths in a month of unrest. Last Sunday, huge rallies in Cairo and other cities called for Mursi’s resignation, venting anger over economic stagnation and perceptions of a Brotherhood power grab.

His overthrow was greeted with wild scenes of celebration but infuriated supporters who fear a return to the suppression of Islamists they endured under generations of military rule.

It has deepened Egypt’s crisis. With its supporters enraged by Mursi’s removal from power, the Brotherhood says it wants nothing to do with what the army has billed as an inclusive transition plan, culminating in fresh elections.

The military has given scarce details – its road map gave no timeframe for a new ballot – adding to political uncertainty at a time when many Egyptians fear violence could polarize society even further.

Leftist former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi told Reuters he hoped the transition could last only six months. And, in common with allies on the liberal left, he insisted there had been no military coup. He called the idea an insult to Egypt.

RISING TENSIONS

In an early incident that raised tensions in Cairo, three protesters were shot dead outside the Republican Guard barracks where deposed Mursi is being held, security sources said.

The army denied blame for the shootings. An army spokesman said troops did not open fire on the demonstrators and soldiers used blank rounds and teargas to control the crowd.

It was unclear whether security forces units other than army troops were also present.

Later, tens of thousands of cheering Islamists gathered near a mosque in a Cairo suburb where they were addressed by Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, free to address them despite reports on Thursday that he had been arrested.

Badie, like some other leaders, pledge that it was worth “our lives” to restore Mursi to the presidency. But Brotherhood officials have also insisted they will not resort to violence.

After dark, running battles broke out in the area between Tahrir Square and the state broadcasting headquarters. Reuters journalists saw hundreds of youths from either side skirmish around the highway ramps of a major bridge over the Nile.

There was some shotgun fire, rocks flew and fireworks shot between rival groups. A car was burned out. Protesters erected makeshift shields for protection. The Brotherhood said 18 of its supporters were wounded after they were attacked by “thugs”.

Reuters journalists saw several men with shotgun wounds.

The army, which had pledged to protect demonstrators and keep rival factions apart, had troops in the area but violence only ended after some three hours when half a dozen armored personnel carriers arrived and took up position on the bridge.

Islamists also took to the streets in cities across the country, including Assiut, Damanhour, Ismailia, and in the Nile Delta towns of Gharbeya and Beheira.

SINAI ATTACKS

In the Sinai peninsula bordering Israel, where Egypt has struggled to control security since Mubarak was toppled, five police officers were gunned down in separate attacks in the town of El Arish, medical sources said.

Hardline Islamist groups have exploited a collapse in state authority after the uprising to launch attacks into Israel and on Egyptian targets.

The violence will ring alarm bells in the United States. Washington has so far avoided referring to the army’s removal of Mursi as a “coup”, a word that under U.S. law would require a halt to its $1.5 billion in annual aid.

Mursi’s opponents also say it was not a coup but an intervention to impose the “people’s will”.

The Brotherhood’s key political strategist, Khairat El-Shater, became the latest senior figure to be arrested since Mursi’s removal.

A legal technicality forced Shater’s withdrawal from the presidential campaign last year, promoting Mursi into being the movement’s candidate.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said the movement was faced with a crackdown from a state establishment unreformed from the days of Mubarak: “It’s the old police state of Mubarak with every ingredient and nightmare that it had before the January 25 revolution. It’s as if we hit the reset button.”

But many Egyptians saw the military as a guarantor of stability at a dangerous time for the largest Arab nation of 84 million people.

“Maybe they will need to issue a curfew. Maybe the trouble will last a few days,” said Said Asr, 41, sitting with friends outside a Cairo cafe smoking a cigarette. “But the army is everything in this country. And they are taking control.”

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.