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Violence deepens Egypt turmoil, deposed leader probed for murder
At least seven people were killed and hundreds wounded in scattered violence across Egypt during mass rallies for and against the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was placed under investigation for murder.
With hundreds of thousands taking to the streets on Friday, the new bloodshed deepened the turmoil convulsing the Arab world’s most populous country, and could trigger a decisive move by the military against Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s army-installed interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, said month-old Cairo vigils by supporters of the deposed leader would be “brought to an end, soon and in a legal manner,” state-run al Ahram news website reported.
In the sprawling capital, huge crowds heeded a call by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to give him a popular mandate to confront violence unleashed by his July 3 overthrow of Mursi, who remains in military detention.
Following Sisi’s call, news of the investigation against Mursi over a 2011 jailbreak signaled an escalation in the military’s confrontation with the deposed leader’s Islamist movement.
The Brotherhood fears a broad crackdown to wipe out a movement that emerged from decades in the shadows to take power after Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak, only to be deposed a year later by the powerful military.
In Egypt’s second city Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, hundreds of people fought pitched battles, with birdshot fired and men on rooftops throwing stones at crowds below.
Seven people were killed, several of them stabbed, and more than 100 were wounded, the health ministry said. Several hundred were hurt in confrontations nationwide.
In Cairo, the pro-Mursi camp said one Brotherhood supporter had been killed when “thugs” opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets. State media reported a clash with security forces, but did not say whether anyone had died and Reuters could not independently confirm what happened.
There is deepening alarm in the West over the army’s move against Egypt’s first freely elected president, which has triggered weeks of violence in the influential Arab state bordering United States ally Israel. Close to 200 people have died.
The country of 84 million people forms a bridge between the Middle East and North Africa and receives $1.5 billion a year in mainly military aid from Washington.