July 6, 2013

Clashes in Egypt kill at least 30, hurt 210

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Supporters and opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi clash on the 6 October bridge, near Maspero, where Egypt's state tv and radio station is located, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, July 5, 2013. Tens of thousands of Islamists streamed across a Nile River bridge toward Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday, threatening a showdown moments after the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood defiantly spoke before a cheering crowd of supporters, vowing to reinstate ousted President Mohammed Morsi and end military rule. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

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Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi beat up an opponent during clashes where Maspero, Egypt's state tv and radio station is located, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, July 5, 2013. Tens of thousands of Islamists streamed across a Nile River bridge toward Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday, threatening a showdown moments after the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood defiantly spoke before a cheering crowd of supporters, vowing to reinstate ousted President Mohammed Morsi and end military rule. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

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Protesters threw stones at the troops, who responded with volleys of tear gas. Many of those injured had wounds typical of birdshot. The BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, was hit by birdshot in the head as he covered the clashes but said his injuries were superficial.

Badie made his appearance three hours later on a stage in front of tens of thousands of Islamists massed at Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque, not far from the Republican Guard building.

Morsi "is my president and your president and the president of all Egyptians," Badie proclaimed, thrusting his arms in the air, as a military helicopter circled low overhead.

The gray-haired Badie is a revered figure among the Brotherhood's followers, who swear an oath of absolute obedience to him — to "hear and obey."

The circumstances of his appearance were a mystery. Security officials had said Badie was taken into custody from a villa on the Mediterranean coast soon after Morsi's removal Wednesday night and flown to Cairo, part of a sweep that netted at least five other senior Brotherhood figures and put around 200 more on wanted lists.

Just before his speech, the Brotherhood's political party said on its webpage that Badie had "been released." On stage, however, Badie denied he had been arrested. There was no immediate explanation from security officials.

Authorities also announced the release of Saad Katatni, head of the Brotherhood's political arm the Freedom and Justice Party, as well as one of Badie's deputies, Rashad Bayoumi, pending further investigation.

Fears have been running high over an Islamist backlash to Morsi's overthrow. Extremist Islamist groups that gained considerable freedom to operate during Morsi's year in office have already vowed violence in retaliation.

The first major militant attack came before dawn Friday in the tumultuous Sinai Peninsula, killing at least one soldier. Masked assailants launched a coordinated attack with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns on the airport in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, where military aircraft are located. Also hit was a security forces camp in Rafah on the border with Gaza, and five other military and police posts.

One of military's top commanders, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, arrived at el-Arish to lead operations there as the army declared a "war on terrorism" in Sinai. A crowd of Morsi supporters tried to storm the governor's office in the city but were dispersed by security forces.

On the night of Morsi's ouster, jihadi groups rallied in el-Arish, vowing to fight. "War council, war council," a speaker shouted, according to online video of the rally. "No peacefulness after today."

Islamic militants hold a powerful sway in the lawless northern Sinai. They are heavily armed with weapons smuggled from Libya and have links with militants in the neighboring Gaza Strip, run by Hamas. After the attack, Egypt indefinitely closed its border crossing into Gaza, sending 200 Palestinians back into the territory, said Gen. Sami Metwali, director of Rafah passage.

At the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque rally earlier in the day, the crowd filled much of a broad boulevard, vowing to stay until Morsi is reinstated. The protesters railed against what they called the return of the Mubarak regime.

"The old regime has come back ... worse than before," said Ismail Abdel-Mohsen, an 18-year-old student at the mosque rally. He described the interim president as "the military puppet."

"After sunset, President Morsi will be back in the palace," they chanted. "The people want God's law. Islamic, Islamic, whether the army likes it or not."

Many held copies of the Quran in the air, and much of the crowd had the long beards of ultraconservative men or encompassing black robes and veils worn by women.

One protester shouted that the sheik of Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Muslim cleric who backed the military, was "an agent of the Christians" — reflecting a sentiment that the Christian minority was behind Morsi's ouster.

In southern Egypt, Islamists attacked the main church in the city of Qena. In the town of Dabaiya near the city of Luxor, a mob torched houses of Christians, sending dozens seeking shelter in a police station.

 

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Additional Photos

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An Egyptian military attack helicopter flies over the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday.

The Associated Press

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A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi prays on an Egyptian flag during the Friday prayer before a protest near the University of Cairo in Giza, Egypt.

The Associated Press

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A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi cries during a protest near the University of Cairo in Giza, Egypt, on Friday.

The Associated Press



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