Thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets nationwide on Friday to grant the armed forces a mandate to confront “violence and terrorism” or voice support for ousted President Mohammad Mursi.
In Cairo, thousands gathered in the iconic Tahrir Square and outside the Ittihadya presidential palace in support of the army. Meanwhile, thousands gathered in two other areas of the populous capital demanding the return to power of Mursi and denouncing his overthrow as a military coup.
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Wednesday on Egyptians to demonstrate nationwide to grant him the mandate to fight “terrorism.”
Islamist supporters of Mursi say the army’s call signals an intention to crackdown on them, vowing to remain in the streets.
The army says it does not take sides and vowed to secure both rival demonstrations as long as they remain peaceful.
Several clashes however were reported. In the city of Alexandria four people were killed in clashes between supporters of Egypt's military and deposed President Mursi’s loyalists, state media reported, quoting a hospital official.
Police have intervened to break up the clashes in the Mediterranean city, in which at least 86 people were injured, many with gunshot wounds, the reports said.
The health ministry said at least 54 others were wounded in clashes elsewhere in the country.
Seven protesters were reportedly hurt during clashes in the Nile delta city of Damietta, according to Reuters
Army helicopters buzzed low over the main pro-Mursi tent vigil and over Tahrir Square where the pro-army camp is holding its demonstration.
There is deepening alarm in the West over the course taken by the country of 84 million people, a pivotal nation between the Middle East and North Africa and recipient of $1.5 billion a year in mainly military aid from the United States, Reuters reported.
Mursi has disappeared since his overthrow nd the army has said he is being held for his own safety. But Mena news agency reported that Mursi would now be detained for 15 days as a judge investigated a raft of allegations.
The probe centers on charges that he conspired with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to flee jail during the 2011uprising against veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak, killing some prisoners and officers, kidnapping soldiers and torching buildings.
Mursi has previously said locals helped him escape from prison during the 2011 upheavals and the Muslim.
Brotherhood denounced the series of accusations leveled against him as politically-motivated.
(With Reuters and AFP)