Six killed in Egypt as thousands protest against Army

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At least six people were killed and 190 were wounded on Friday in Egypt as violent clashes erupted between supporters of ousted President Mohammad Mursi and security forces, the Health Ministry said.

In the capital's Nasr City district, thousands marched holding pictures of those killed in days of violent clashes with police this month during a security crackdown on the Islamists, AFP reported.

Violence appeared to be limited, by the standards of the army crackdown on Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, as the marchers defied warnings that the security forces massed at key intersections would open fire if protests turned violent.

A ministry official in Port Said, on the Suez Canal, said one protester had been killed and 21injured there in clashes between Mursi supporters and opponents, according Reuters.

The army-backed government has arrested most of the leaders of the Brotherhood since Mursi was toppled by the military on July 3, suffocating protests and all but silencing the movement that ruled Egypt for a year.

Friday's demonstrators appeared to have chosen to hold numerous scattered protests and to avoid Cairo's bigger squares, where police and tanks were deployed in force, or the scenes of earlier protests such as the pro-Mursi street camps where security forces shot dead more than 600 people on Aug. 14.

Just after Friday prayers, around 500 protesters set off from central Cairo's Sahib Rumi mosque chanting, "Wake up, don't be afraid, the army must leave!," "The Interior Ministry are thugs!" and "Egypt is Islamic, not secular!"

By mid-afternoon, thousands were marching in several Cairo districts and suburbs calling for the return of the elected government, Reuters reported.

Soldiers were joined by helmeted police in black uniforms and bulletproof vests, armed with tear gas guns and semi-automatic rifles, at checkpoints near the protests. They blocked access to one of the bridges over the Nile.

The Brotherhood led Anti-Coup Alliance had called for peaceful rallies and said they would consider proposals to defuse tensions.

"We welcome any calls for calm, but we will continue protesting in a peaceful manner," Salah Gomaa, an alliance member, told a news conference on Thursday.

In a statement, the Anti-Coup Alliance called for the release of prisoners and demanded a probe into the violence over the past month.

On Thursday, the interior ministry said police arrested Mohamed Beltagi, a firebrand politician, along with Khaled al-Azhari, also an Islamist and a former Mursi cabinet minister.

A former member of parliament, Beltagi became one of the most vociferous opponents of the popularly backed military coup, AFP reported.

Prosecutors had issued a warrant for Beltagi on charges of inciting violence.

Police have already arrested the Brotherhood's supreme guide Mohamed Badie and much of the senior leadership.

Badie and his deputies are standing trial on charges of involvement in the murder of protesters who stormed the Brotherhood's headquarters on June 30.

Morsi himself is being held at a secret location and faces charges related to his 2011 escape from prison and of inciting the death and torture of protesters.

This was the second Friday in a row that the Islamists failed to rally huge crowds to their cause.


(With AFP and Reuters)

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