Islamists take to Egypt streets in defiant protest of government crackdown
By Aya Batrawy and Tony G. Gabriel ,APCAIRO -- Gunfire rang out over a main Cairo overpass and police fired tear gas as clashes broke out after tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets Friday across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the country's bloodshed earlier this week.
August 17, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Fighting first erupted near the Foreign Ministry in the Egyptian capital, according to an Associated Press reporter who saw protesters and people below an overpass throw rocks and bottles at each other. Gunshots rang out during the march. It was not immediately clear who was clashing with whom.
In the northern city of Tanta and Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria, clashes also broke out between police and Brotherhood supporters. State TV reported that a policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded by gunmen on a checkpoint just outside the capital in an area called New Cairo.
The landmark Tahrir Square in Cairo, where dozens of anti-Brotherhood protesters have been camped out for weeks, was heavily blockaded by tanks and barbed wire to prevent the Islamist marchers getting to the area. The Brotherhood then urged its supporters to head instead to Ramses Square, not far from Tahrir and near Cairo's train station.
On the overpass leading to Ramses Square, state TV aired video of a man carrying an automatic rifle. The Associated Press reporter there saw one protester wounded by a bullet in the leg.
Earlier Friday, the protesters poured out of mosques after traditional mid-day prayers, responding to the Brotherhood's call for a “Day of Rage” as armored military vehicles sealed off main squares in the Egyptian capital and troops with machineguns deployed on key junctions.
Also Friday, security officials said unknown assailants detonated explosives on train tracks between Alexandria and the western Mediterranean Sea province of Marsa Matrouh. There were no injuries and no trains were damaged from the attack, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The protests were larger than in previous weeks, ignited by the outrage over the deaths of 638 people on Wednesday, when riot police backed by armored vehicles, snipers and bulldozers smashed two sit-ins in Cairo where ousted President Mohammed Morsi's supporters had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement.