Policemen stand guard inside a room of Al Fath Mosque yesterday.
CAIRO: Security forces cleared a Cairo mosque after a gun battle with followers of the Muslim Brotherhood yesterday, while the army-backed government, facing deepening chaos, considered banning the Islamist group.
Witnesses saw gunmen shoot from a window of the Al Fath Mosque, where supporters of deposed president Mohamed Mursi had taken shelter during confrontations in the heart of the Egyptian capital on Friday.
Another gunman was shown on TV shooting from the mosque’s minaret and soldiers outside returning fire. Hours later, police moved in and secured the building, making scores of arrests as crowds on the streets cheered them on.
It was not clear if anyone died in the clashes — the fourth day of violence in Egypt, which has killed almost 800 people. Troubles were also reported in the second city Alexandria, where an office run by the Muslim Brotherhood was set ablaze.
Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi proposed disbanding the Brotherhood. “We are not facing political divisions, we are facing a war being waged by extremists developing daily into terrorism,” presidential political adviser Mostafa Hegazy told reporters.
“We will win this war not only with security procedures, but according to the law and within the framework of human rights.”
If the proposal is acted on, it would force the group underground and could herald large-scale arrests of its members.
The Health Ministry said 173 people died in clashes on Friday, including 95 in central Cairo.
Among those killed was a son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, shot dead close to the mosque. Authorities said they rounded up more than 1,000 Islamists, along with Mohamed Al Zawahiri, the brother of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri.