CAIRO: At least 26 people were killed in clashes across Egypt on Friday as tens of thousands of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi turned out to protest his ouster by a popularly backed military coup.
A coalition of Islamist groups including Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood vowed further “peaceful” protests in a statement early Saturday, demanding the military restore the country’s first democratically elected leader.
In the restive north of the Sinai peninsula, armed Morsi supporters stormed the provincial headquarters in the town of El-Arish after a gunfight and raised the black banner of Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants, an Agence France-Presse correspondent said.
At least 12 people were killed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria as Morsi’s supporters and opponents fought a pitched street battle, the official MENA news agency said.
Police continued to round up top Islamists, announcing the arrest of Khairat al-Shater, widely seen as the most powerful man behind Morsi in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
A spokesman for United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon quoted him calling for a peaceful end to the crisis. “There is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any major party or community”.
In Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, at least two people were killed when Morsi supporters traded fire with his opponents, state television reported.
Four protesters were killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters after breaking away from a pro-Morsi demonstration, the official MENA news agency reported.
The bodies of two people were covered with sheets, said an Agence France-Presse correspondent, adding that another protester was shot in the head.
Soldiers had warned a protester waving a picture of the ousted president not to approach their barbed wire cordon.
They opened fire when he ignored them, and shots were then heard from both sides, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.
The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, after millions called for his ouster on the June 30 anniversary of his first turbulent year in power.
Friday’s violence came as the supreme guide of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, vowed that members of the Islamist movement would throng the streets in their millions until his presidency is restored.