Egypt clashes kill 2; Cairo bridge bombs wound 6
CAIRO (AP) — Clashes between Egyptian security forces and Islamist protesters killed two people on Friday, including an 11-year-old boy, while a pair of home-made bombs targeting policemen wounded six people on a bridge in Cairo, officials said.
The violence came as protesters supporting ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi took to the streets yet again in the Egyptian capital and several provinces to denounce last year’s military coup that toppled their leader, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Clashes erupted as security forces moved to disperse the demonstrations. In the village of Dalga in the southern province of Minya, hundreds of mostly young demonstrators marched in the streets and hurled stones at the police, who responded by firing birdshot, a security official and an eye witness said. The 11-year-old died after being shot in the head and chest, they said.
Pro-Morsi protesters and police also clashed in the oasis town of Fayoum southwest of Cairo, where one person was shot in the back and instantly killed, local hospital officials said. It was not clear whether the killed man was a demonstrator or a bystander.
Since the coup last July, Morsi’s supporters have staged near-daily demonstrations to demand his reinstatement, with the largest rallies usually on Friday or key anniversaries, though their numbers have dwindled in recent months.
The military-backed government has cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, detaining thousands and designating the group a terrorist organization late last year. It also blames the Brotherhood and its allies for the burgeoning insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as a string of terror attacks elsewhere in the nation.
The street violence roiling Egypt has paralleled a spike in attacks often targeting security forces. Many have been claimed by a Sinai-based, al-Qaida-inspired militant group.
Earlier Friday, two homemade bombs targeted a police checkpoint on a bridge in the Cairo section of Giza, wounding six people.
The state news agency MENA quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman as saying the explosions hit a truck belonging to the security forces stationed on the bridge leading into a major square. A security official said four of the wounded were members of the police.
Shortly after the bombings, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said that “terrorist” attacks will not deter Egyptians from taking “steps toward their future” in a statement carried on MENA.
Amid the increasing attacks, Egypt has seen a heavy security deployment on the streets around main squares and government installations, in anticipation of more violence.
The Brotherhood is also planning a series of marches in the run up to next Tuesday — the third anniversary of the day on which long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak stepped down following the country’s 2011 uprising.
There were also other pro-Brotherhood rallies elsewhere in Egypt on Friday, including in Cairo, the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and in the Suez Canal city of Suez.
In Cairo’s eastern district of Nasr City, police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators and chased them into side streets, security officials said. Police also fired tear gas to disperse a large group of protesters in the capital’s Ain Shams district, where Morsi’s supporters had unsuccessfully tried to set up an encampment last week.
In Suez, troops cordoned off and chased hundreds of protesters who marched in the city’s narrow streets, said the officials.
The eyewitness who recounted details of Friday’s clashes spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his own safety. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
The Health Ministry said eight people were wounded in the clashes in Cairo and Fayoum. Fifteen people were arrested, including six who were filming protest marches in Alexandria, footage that was allegedly to be aired on channels affiliated with the Brotherhood, said police Maj. Gen. Nasser el-Abd.
Reporting for Brotherhood-linked networks has become a crime after the group was designated a terrorist organization.
In January, Egypt’s chief prosecutor referred 20 journalists including four foreigners from the Al Jazeera TV network, to trial on charges of allegedly joining or assisting a terrorist group and spreading false news that endangers national security. Authorities have long depicted the Qatar-based Al Jazeera as biased toward Morsi and the Brotherhood.