Egypt Islamists denounce army-planned rallies as call for "civil war"

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Egyptian police stand guard following a grenade attack on the Dahqaliya police station in Mansura, the regional capital of the Dahqaliya province, north of Cairo, late on 23 July 2013. (Photo: AFP - Sayed Baz)

Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Updated at 6:55 pm: Egypt's army called for nationwide rallies to protest the ongoing violence, as several attacks in Egypt killed three on Wednesday, sparking outrage from Islamists, who called the rallies an "announcement of civil war" and announced counter-demonstrations.

Egypt's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for nationwide rallies on Friday to give the military a mandate to confront what he termed violence and terrorism.

In a speech on Wednesday at a military graduation ceremony, Sisi denied accusations that he had betrayed Mursi and vowed to stick to a political roadmap that laid the way for a reform of the constitution and new elections within some six months.

He said his appeal for protests on Friday was not a call for violence and expressed support for efforts for national reconciliation.

Egyptian youth movement Tamarud – who was behind the mass protests that eventually ousted Mursi – said it backed the army's call.

"We call on the people to take to the streets on Friday to support their armed forces, which we support and are happy for it to play its role in confronting the violence and terrorism practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood," Tamarud leader Mahmoud Badr told Reuters.

But the Brotherhood responded by saying that Sisi's calls for rallies Friday is a threat and that pro-Mursi protests will not stop.

"Your threat will not prevent millions from continuously protesting," the Brotherhood's Essam al-Erian said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Mursi supporters called for counter-demonstrations to also take place on Friday.

The marches will be held in all provinces under the slogan "the people want to bring down the coup," the Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition said in a statement on Tuesday.

"(General Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi's threats are an announcement of civil war," the coalition added.

Tensions have been high across Egypt as supporters of Mursi press protests calling for his reinstatement, even as the country's military-backed cabinet tries to get down to work.

Mohammed Sultan, deputy head of the emergency services, told AFP an explosive device went off very early in the morning outside a police station in the Nile Delta city of Mansura, in the latest incidence of violence sweeping Egypt since president Mohammed Mursi's ouster.

He put the toll at "28 wounded and one dead", while state media reported that the dead man was a police conscript.

A previous toll from security sources said that the explosion had wounded eight members of the security forces.

The blast came after clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi, deposed by the military on July 3, killed at least 13 people across Egypt since Monday.

In the restive Sinai region, gunmen killed two Egyptian soldiers, security officials said. One soldier died of a bullet wound to the chest after gunmen fired at a checkpoint near the north Sinai town of el-Arish, the officials said.

Another soldier was shot dead several hours later in an attack on a water truck belonging to the army in el-Arish.

Mansura has seen previous unrest, with three women protesters dying in clashes at a rally in support of Mursi in the city on Friday.

Nearly 170 people have died in political unrest in Egypt since the end of June, according to an AFP tally.

Violence in Sinai, where the government faces a low-level insurgency, has in the same period killed around another 40, including security services personnel, civilians and militants.

(AFP, Reuters)


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