More than 60 people were killed across Egypt on Friday in clashes between pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters and security forces, according to tolls from witnesses, security sources and the health ministry.
An AFP correspondent counted at least 19 bodies in one Cairo mosque, while eyewitnesses at a second mosque said more than 20 bodies of protesters were laid out.
One eyewitness said as many as 27 corpses were lined up inside the second mosque, in Cairo’s Ramses Square.
Security sources said 27 people were killed in cities across the country, but gave no toll for Cairo, while the health ministry confirmed 22 deaths, also excluding the capital.
The counts put the toll from violence across Egypt on Friday at 66 dead.
The Muslim Brotherhood said 45 people had been killed in Cairo, accusing security forces of using live fire against peaceful protesters.
The health ministry said four people were killed in violence in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya and another eight in northern Damietta.
Security sources also reported a police conscript was killed when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the capital.
Among those killed elsewhere were a policeman in the North Sinai town of El-Arish, and one protester in the canal city of Port Said.
Gehad al-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman, had announced Friday’s marches on his Twitter account.
“Anti-coup rallies… will depart from all mosques of Cairo and head towards Ramses Square after (noon) prayer in ‘Friday of Anger,’” he wrote.
Laila Moussa, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Coup Alliance of Islamist groups opposing Mursi’s ouster, said similar protests were planned across the country.
She said Mursi loyalists, including at least two former members of parliament, had been arrested in dawn raids ahead of the protests.
On Thursday, Tamarod, the protest group that organized opposition to Mursi’s rule, also urged Egyptians to take to the streets.
It said they should turn out on Friday “to reject domestic terrorism and foreign interference.”
Thousands of anti-coup protesters gathered across the country, chanting “down with military rule” as they waved photos of Mursi and Egyptian flags.
Gunfire was heard at the sites of at least two protests in Cairo, eyewitnesses told AFP.
Shots were heard on a bridge in the center of the city, as well as in Ramses Square, where marches in support of Mursi were converging.
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Egyptian security forces also fired birdshot and tear gas early on Friday to block demonstrators from reaching a government building in the northern city of Tanta.
State television reported that the army and police will deal firmly with any violation of the law, as troops backed by armored vehicles deployed across the capital on Friday with the streets almost deserted.
Soldiers manned roadblocks on major thoroughfares, closing off some of them with armored personnel carriers, AFP correspondents reported.
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The protest call by the Muslim Brotherhood, still reeling from the deaths of 578 people in the country’s bloodiest day in decades, raised fears of fresh violence, after the interior ministry ordered police to use live fire if government buildings come under attack.
Residents of some areas formed their own roadblocks, checking identity papers and searching cars.
Some members of the international community expressed grave concern, with the president of the UN Security Council pleading for “maximum restraint” after an emergency meeting on the violence.
Meanwhile, Saudi King Abdullah pledged his country’s support to Egypt’s fight on “terrorism,” saying it was the military-backed government’s “legitimate right,” in a speech aired on official al-Ekhbariya television Friday.
Saudi Arabia “has stood and stands with its Egyptian brothers against terrorism, deviance and sedition, and against those who try to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs… and its legitimate rights in deterring those tampering with and misleading” its people, he said.
Sporadic violence continued throughout the country in the form of attacks on security personnel, with 13 killed in the Sinai Peninsula in 24 hours.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)