CAIRO: Five people died in a bomb blast and clashes between security forces and protesters yesterday marking the first anniversary of the army’s ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
Thousands of Egyptians opposed to the army’s overthrow of Mursi joined protests in Cairo, witnesses said, but most of the gatherings attracted only dozens, were confined to narrow back streets and quickly dispersed amid tight security.
Armoured personnel carriers blocked off Cairo’s Tahrir Square to prevent demonstrators from converging on the central spot, the symbolic heart of the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power.
Yesterday marked a year since President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, then army chief, ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi following days of mass protests against his year-long rule.
In the weeks and months after the ouster, security forces launched a crackdown that saw thousands of Brotherhood members detained and hundreds killed. Egypt has since labelled the country’s oldest Islamist movement a terrorist organisation.
Since Mursi’s ouster, militant Islamist groups have launched a campaign of bombings and shootings targeting security forces in the sprawling capital.
The Muslim Brotherhood denies any link to the violence.
A call by Islamist opponents of Mursi’s ouster for mass demonstrations appeared to fall flat yesterday.
“On July 3, Egyptians will revolt, marking the beginning of the end of the coup, marching from all towns and cities across Egypt to liberty squares in all provinces,” an alliance of Mursi’s supporters said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Three of yesterday’s victims died in clashes that broke out in Cairo between protesters and security forces, security sources said. The Interior Ministry said 150 Mursi supporters had been arrested at protests in several provinces.
Earlier in the day, two men died in a bomb blast at a flat in Kerdasa, a western district of the capital where around 10 policemen were killed by an Islamist mob last summer. Security sources said they believed one of the victims was involved in that police killing.
Another explosive device detonated yesterday in a car in the northeastern district of Abbassiya and three home-made bombs went off near police cars in the central district of Imbaba without causing injuries, the sources added.
State-news agency MENA reported that 17 militants were also killed in security operations in North Sinai.
Amnesty International condemned Egypt’s human rights record in a statement yesterday, saying torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions had increased since Mursi’s political demise.