CAIRO: Egypt’s military appealed for conciliation and warned against revenge attacks, after it toppled President Mohamed Morsi, as police rounded up senior Islamists ahead of planned rallies by Morsi’s supporters on Friday.
The military published the statement on its spokesman’s Facebook page as scores were injured in clashes between the Islamist Morsi’s supporters and opponents in the Nile Delta.
In the restive Sinai Peninsula, a soldier was killed in an attack by Islamist militants early Friday, as gunmen ambushed several army and police positions with machine gun fire and rockets and attacked an airport.
The official MENA news agency said military Apache helicopters dispatched to pursue gunmen who attacked an airport in northern Sinai struck a militants’ vehicle. It gave no further details.
Some militants in the peninsula had threatened a violent response after Morsi’s ouster on Wednesday.
The military statement said it supported the right to peaceful protest, but warned that violence and civil disobedience acts such as blocking roads would “harm social peace.”
The clashes in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya broke out hours after chief justice Adly Mansour, 67, was sworn in as interim president until new elections, at a ceremony broadcast live from the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected but controversial president, following massive protests calling for the Islamist’s ouster.
The military statement said “exceptional and autocratic measures against any political group” should be avoided, even as security forces rounded up top Muslim Brotherhood officials.
Police arrested the Brotherhood’s supreme leader Mohammed Badie “for inciting the killing of protesters”, a security official told Agence France-Presse.
Former supreme guide Mahdi Akef was also arrested, state television reported.
Morsi himself was “preventively detained” by the military, a senior officer had told AFP on Thursday, hours after his overthrow the night before, suggesting the ousted president might face trial.
“The armed forces believe that the forgiving nature and manners of the Egyptian people, and the eternal values of Islam, do not allow us to turn to revenge and gloating,” the army said in its statement.
The United States on Thursday pressed Egyptian officials to avoid the “arbitrary arrests” of Morsi and his supporters, a US administration official said.
Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Morsi’s overthrow on Wednesday night, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis, as dozens of armoured personnel carriers streamed onto Cairo’s streets.
A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning Brotherhood members, including Morsi, for “insulting the judiciary”.
Other leaders of the movement would be questioned on the same charges, including the head of its political arm Saad al-Katatni, Mohammed al-Beltagui, Gamal Gibril and Taher Abdel Mohsen.