Egypt Civil War – Deadly clashes between Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi and security forces erupted Friday across Egypt, pushing the country further into chaos as the military-backed government battled to gain control of the streets.
Thousands of protesters, primarily aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, defied a government-imposed curfew, staying put in Cairo’s Ramses Square and the streets, while soldiers and armored personnel carriers were deployed around the square and adjoining streets.
The military warned it would “deal firmly” with anyone who breaks the curfew, raising fears of a repeat of Wednesday’s military raids on pro-Morsy protest camps that left an estimated 580 dead and 4,000 wounded.
The clashes began Friday following afternoon prayers, when thousands of Muslim Brotherhood protesters demanding the return of Morsy took to the streets promising a day of rage.
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Conflicting casualty figures were being reported: A medic at a Muslim Brotherhood-supported field hospital near Ramses Square said 54 people had been killed, according to the official al-Ahram news agency, while state-run Nile TV putting the number at 17 people killed and 40 wounded.
In northern Egypt, at least 16 people were killed and 140 wounded in fighting between Morsy supporters and the military in the coastal city of Alexandria, Nile TV reported, citing medical officials. But al-Ahram put the number at 21, citing local health ministry officials.
In nearby Suez City, soldiers moved late Friday against a number of pro-Morsy demonstrators attempting to camp out at a square after the curfew, al-Ahram reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The casualties have not been limited to Morsy supporters and security forces. A number of bystanders, residents and journalists have been killed as the violence has widened.
Fighting also was reported between Morsy supporters and residents in the northeast city of Ismailia and in the Nile Delta cities of Tanta and Damietta during the curfew, the news channel reported.
By nightfall Friday, state-run media reported sporadic fighting between roving bands of armed protesters and residents in Cairo, where military helicopters could be seen patrolling from the sky as soldiers fanned out across the streets.
Smoke wafted through Ramses Square from a fire that engulfed a nearby commercial building. It was unclear what caused the fire.
Security forces fired tear gas at a mass of people on a major bridge leading to the centrally located Ramses Square. Machine-gun fire was heard in central Cairo as a military helicopter flew overhead.
Elsewhere in Cairo, armed groups were reportedly firing from rooftops, attempting to down a military surveillance helicopter, state-run media reported, citing security sources.
Armed protesters also attacked a police station in central Cairo, killing the police chief, state-run EGYNews reported.
Since Wednesday, 52 police officers have been killed, state television reported. Earlier reports of 64 dead were incorrect. State TV also said 25 police stations and 10 churches have been attacked. The interim government has blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attacks.
At least 263 people, described by armed members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been arrested across the country, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Information.
“The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation,” the Muslim Brotherhood said on its website Friday, while urging people to protest peacefully.
A word ” civil ” doesn’t fit in with the outraged situation in Egypt, but there’s no doubt the War.