Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Mursi gesture during a march in Shubra street in Cairo.
CAIRO: At least four people died in clashes yesterday as supporters of deposed President Mohammed Mursi mounted their boldest marches since troops crushed their protest camps demanding his reinstatement on August 14.
An Egyptian army vehicle fired live rounds in the direction of Brotherhood supporters who had been pushed back by security forces when they tried to enter Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of Egypt’s 2011 uprising.
Four people were killed in clashes in two neighbourhoods of Cairo, an interior ministry spokesman said in comments published by state-run newspaper Al Ahram late yesterday. All four were Brotherhood supporters, security sources said.
Major General Sayed Shafiq, assistant interior minister for public security, denied any protesters had died in the southern city of Assiut. Medical and health sources had earlier said four people had been killed in Assiut, without saying which side they were on.
In Cairo, onlookers threw rocks at pro-Mursi protesters, who hurled them back. Riot police earlier fired tear gas to push back the march.
Thousands of protesters headed toward the site in northeast Cairo of one of the former Brotherhood protest camps crushed by security forces in August. By late afternoon, protesters had retreated from the area.
Members of the Brotherhood, which has been banned by court order, tried to reach the presidential palace but were turned back by police.
The state news agency said protesters failed in attempts to reach the defence ministry and a Republican Guard facility.
Fighting also erupted in Egypt’s second city Alexandria and two Nile Delta cities.
“They (the government) want a country without religion,” said protester Rasha Al Malky.
Yesterday’s violence came a day after European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held talks in Cairo with top government officials, Sisi, and two Brotherhood politicians and urged both sides to pursue reconciliation.
There was no sign either side was prepared to heed her call.
Yesterday’s clashes in Cairo broke out as Mursi supporters tried to enter the centre of Tahrir Square.
The protesters chanted slogans calling for the removal of Sisi and waved Egyptian flags.
State news agency MENA said the army fired warning shots and tear gas to prevent Brotherhood supporters from crossing a bridge leading into the square.
Protesters wrote graffiti on the wall of a building near Tahrir reading “Egypt is Islamic.” Others chanted “You coward Sisi” as tear gas billowed in the air.
Political tensions have decimated investment and tourism, a pillar of the economy. Attacks by militant groups based in the Sinai Peninsula have risen sharply since Mursi’s ouster, with almost daily operations against soldiers and police.
Two Egyptian soldiers were killed by masked gunmen in a drive-by shooting last morning on a road near the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, security sources said. The city borders the Sinai.
A Salafi Jihadi militant group warned that any local Bedouin leader who cooperated with the Egyptian authorities would be targeted.
WASHINGTON: The United States yesterday renewed its plea to Egyptian protestors not to incite violence on the streets of Cairo, as it closely monitored renewed clashes in Egypt.
Washington was “troubled by the reports ... of small clashes in Cairo,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
“We condemn all acts of violence as well as incitement of violence. We’ve also said the Egyptian government has a responsibility to protect all Egyptians and create an atmosphere that supports a process of political transition that is peaceful, inclusive and has maximum participation.”
Harf also insisted the protestors should ensure that all demonstrations were peaceful.