A police vehicle burning outside Al Azhar University after it was torched by students yesterday.
CAIRO: Egypt vowed yesterday to confront the Muslim Brotherhood with “full force” as the Islamists called for further rallies, a day after clashes between protesters and police killed at least 17 people.
The Brotherhood, which demands the reinstatement of ousted president Mohammed Mursi, has organised near-daily protests despite its designation last month as a terrorist organisation.
Friday’s violence was the deadliest in almost three months, after Mursi supporters rallied in the thousands in defiance of the interim government’s designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group last month.
The designation carries harsh prison sentences for members arrested during demonstrations or leaders of the influential Islamist movement. “The organisation continues its criminal activities despite its designation as a terrorist group,” said the government. The state “will confront the activities of this terrorist group with full force,” it said.
Police arrested 258 suspected protesters during the clashes, security officials said. More than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned, in the crackdown on Mursi’s supporters following his ouster.
The military is also battling an Islamist militant campaign in the Sinai peninsula that has killed scores of soldiers and policemen since Mursi’s overthrow in July.
Another soldier was killed when a road side bomb detonated near his vehicle, the military said.
The Brotherhood, which insists it is peaceful, has called for a surge in rallies ahead of the second hearing in Mursi’s trial for inciting the killing of protesters during his turbulent year in power. The government says the Islamists now intend to disrupt a January 14-15 referendum on a new constitution, the first in a series of polls that it says will restore an elected government by the end of the year.
The Islamists, who have called for a boycott of the referendum, are also urging a “million man march” on Wednesday to coincide with Mursi’s hearing. The crackdown on the group has jailed most of its leaders and severely impaired its ability to organise large numbers of protesters. AFP