Hundreds in Egypt take on police in violent clashes
CAIRO — With water cannons and tear gas, Egyptian riot police battled on Friday with hundreds of rock-throwing supporters of ousted ex-President Mohamed Morsy in clashes across the country that left five dead, according to officials.
Authorities took up a new tactic to contain protests called by Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies, calling on large families to post armed men near the likely sites of demonstrations.
Friday is the day of the week in Egypt in which protests are typically at their largest.
The day's demonstrations follow an announcement by the authorities that they will use Brotherhood's new designation as a terrorist organization to levy harsh prison sentence on protesters. It poses the first test of whether that will deter them.
In at least seven southern provinces, security and local officials said that the authorities turned to armed civilians from anti-Islamist and pro-government families to provide support to security forces, help guard police stations and churches and confront pro-Morsy rallies.
One high-ranking Interior Ministry official said that this is part of a bigger deal between the security apparatus and the big clans in the south, the most conservative part of Egypt, which has a strong tradition both of inter-family feuding and of Islamist militancy.
Families would hand over heavy weapons to the government but would be allowed to carry lighter ones when facing off with Islamists, and in return, authorities would support candidates from those families in upcoming parliamentary elections.
The tactic is not new in Egypt. In the 1990s, during the Islamic insurgency against ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the government formed “popular committees” in which relatives of ruling party members, parliamentarians and other prominent government allies helped expel militants from towns and cities.
In at least two incidents on Friday in the southern provinces of Assiut and Qena, witnesses said, two small rallies quickly dispersed when pro-government civilians mounting pickups fired their machine guns into the air, driving protesters away.
In Cairo, riot police chased rock-throwing and gasoline-bomb-hurling student protesters chanting against the military and the police at the Islamic Al-Azhar University. In a second district of Alf Maskan, an Associated Press cameraman saw Islamist protesters hurling Molotov cocktails and fireworks at security forces while civilians on the police side hurled stones.
The street was littered with rocks, shattered glass and black soot.
In a statement, Egypt's Interior Ministry said a total of three people were killed. Three police vehicles were set on fire, and 265 protesters, including women, were arrested, it said.
Two security officials in the southern city of Minya and Aswan said that two pro-Morsy supporters were killed in the clashes, bringing the total number of deaths to five.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama celebrates gains, notes stalemates on visit to East Africa
- Turks, Kurdish rebels deepen hostility
- Scientists warn about killer robots
- French students unearth 560,000-year-old tooth, oldest body part found in country
- Libyans on death sentences for Gadhafi’s son, others: ‘Who cares?’
- Boehner vows to do ‘everything possible’ to scuttle Iran nuclear deal
- U.S., Turkey plan for ‘safe zone’ free of ISIS in northern Syria
- Defense secretary touts success of Kurdish fighters in war on ISIS
- NATO proclaims ‘strong solidarity’ with Turkey against IS
- China returns passport to artist Ai Weiwei, who plans London trip
- Nigeria celebrates year without polio