CAIRO, (Reuters) – Three Egyptians were killed during clashes between supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohamed Mursi late yesterday, after thousands rallied in Egyptian cities demanding the reinstatement of the Islamist leader.
Two women and a 13-year-old boy were killed and eight others were injured, including one in critical condition, in the clashes that erupted in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, Health Ministry official Saed Zaghloul told Reuters.
At least 99 people have died in violence since Mursi’s removal by the army on July 3, more than half of them when troops fired on Islamist protesters outside a Cairo barracks on July 8. Seven people died earlier this week in clashes between opposing camps.
But the Egyptian armed forces, which shunted the country’s first freely elected president from office, looked in no mood to make concessions, putting on a show of force in the hazy skies above Cairo.
Eight fighter jets screamed over the city in the morning and afternoon, while two formations of helicopters, some trailing the Egyptian flag, hummed over the rooftops.
Early on Saturday, army helicopters were seen dropping Egyptian flags on thousands of Mursi’s opponents gathering in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.
Waving their own Egyptian flags, along with portraits of the bearded Mursi, members of the Muslim Brotherhood marched in Cairo, Alexandria and several other cities along the Nile Delta, denouncing what they termed a military coup.
“We are coming out today to restore legitimacy,” said Tarek Yassin, 40, who had travelled to Cairo from the southern city of Sohag, underscoring the Brotherhood’s deep roots in the provinces. “We consider what happened secular thuggery. It would never happen in any democratic country,” he said.
Soldiers prevented protesters from nearing army installations, and there were reports of minor scuffles, with troops firing teargas to disperse demonstrators close to the presidential palace in Cairo, the state news agency said.
“We are following the progress of the protests and are ready for all events or escalation,” said a military official, asking not to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
“They (the Brotherhood) now know the people are not with them and have had it with them after what happened to them and their country this past year,” the officer said.
The army has dismissed any talk of a coup, saying it had to intervene after vast protests on June 30 against Mursi, denounced by his many critics as incompetent and partisan after just a year in office.
It has called for a new constitution and a swift new vote, installing an interim Cabinet that includes no members of the Brotherhood or other Islamist parties that triumphed in a string of elections following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.