Egypt police clash with Mursi loyalists, seven dead

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A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Mursi demonstrates on 16 July 2013 under the Six October Bridge in the center of Cairo. (Photo: AFP - Mahmud Khaled)

Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Updated 12:30 pm: Seven people were killed and 261 wounded in Cairo when supporters of Mohammed Mursi clashed with the deposed president's opponents and security forces overnight, the head of Egypt's emergency services said on Tuesday.

Mohammed Sultan told Reuters two people had been killed at a bridge in central Cairo and five more in the capital's Giza district.

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

Late on Monday hundreds of demonstrators cut off the October 6 bridge across the Nile in the heart of Cairo.

Security forces fired tear gas to drive them back, an AFP correspondent reported. The protesters responded by hurling rocks at the security forces, who responded with fresh volleys of tear gas.

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.

The demonstrators had turned out in their thousands in Cairo after the Ramadan iftar meal to demand Mursi's return.

"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.

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

The clashes were the first in the Egyptian capital since dozens of pro-Mursi demonstrators were shot dead outside an elite military headquarters the previous Monday.

Meanwhile, US envoy in Egypt Bill Burns urged the army to avoid "politically motivated arrests" amid growing international unease at the crackdown on Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.

He was speaking after talks with the new leadership, including the army-appointed interim premier Hazem al-Beblawi, who is expected to announce a new cabinet Tuesday or Wednesday.

But the Brotherhood has refused to take any role in the new government and its supporters are still out on the street calling for Mursi's reinstatement.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Burns had not met any Brotherhood officials.

And Tamarod, the movement that spearheaded the grassroots campaign against Mursi, said it had turned down a chance to meet the US envoy.

"We rejected the invitation... because the United States did not stand with the Egyptian people from the beginning," Islam Hammam, one of the group's organizers, told AFP.

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.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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