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Egypt clashes kill 7, wound 261

  • Published at 08:01 am July 16th, 2013
Egypt clashes kill 7, wound 261

Seven people have been killed and 261 wounded in overnight clashes in Cairo, says Egypt's health ministry, AFP reported through a tweet on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian police and protesters clashed in central Cairo after fights broke out between supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and locals angered when they tried to block major thoroughfares crossing the River Nile, Reuters reported.

The Mena state news agency said at least 22 people were injured in the violence, which began just after 9pm on Monday and lasted into the early hours of Tuesday.

The clashes were smaller and more localised than the earlier deadly unrest since Morsi was deposed by the military on July 3, and most of Cairo was unaffected.

Still, after a week of relative calm, scenes of running street battles close to the Egyptian Museum, one of the country’s main tourist attractions, may raise further concerns about stability in the Arab world’s most populous country.

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

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.

Mohamed’s frustration echoed the view of millions of Egyptians who rallied for Morsi’s resignation on June 30. The military said it deposed him to fulfill the wish of the people. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement said it was a coup.

“It’s the army against the people, these are our soldiers, we have no weapons,” Alaa el-Din, a 34-year-old computer engineer, told Reuters.

Egypt has become increasingly polarised 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.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told reporters in Cairo that Washington had no desire to meddle in Egypt, which it supports with $1.5bn in aid each year, most of which goes to the military.

According to Reuters, Washington, never comfortable with the rise of the Islamist Brotherhood, has so far refused to say whether it views Morsi’s removal as a coup, which would require it to halt aid.

The Islamist Nour Party and the Tamarud anti-Morsi protest movement both said they turned down invitations to meet Burns.

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,” the Reuters website said.

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