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7 dead as pro-Morsi rallies in Egypt draw smaller numbers than expected

Tens of thousands demonstrate in support of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi; violent clashes with local residents and security forces leave seven dead and dozens injured

Ahram Online, Friday 30 Aug 2013
Alexandria protests
Supporters and opponents of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi clash in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. (Photo: AP)
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Seven protesters have been confirmed dead after violence flared at rallies in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Giza, Zagazig and Port Said on Friday.

Protests to 'reclaim legitimacy' were called for by the Muslim Brotherhood's National Coalition to Support Legitimacy.

The latest deaths on Friday occurred in the Giza district of Mohandiseen during clashes between police forces and pro-Morsi protesters. Tens were injured in the violence, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website.

Two other protesters were killed and 22 injured in Sharqiya's Zagazig, medical sources confirmed to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. The Muslim Brotherhood's Ikhwanonline website claims a third person was also killed during the clashes.

Conflicting reports surround how the death occured. Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported they were shot during clashes between protesters and street vendors. However, Ikhwanonline website claims they died after police and armed thugs targeted protesters and besieged those who tried to escape.

In the Suez Canal city of Port Said a protester was killed and 8 injured as fighting broke out between supporters and opponents of the ousted president in the Al-Amin district, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. It is unclear how the clashes started. Police reportedly mobilised to disperse the crowds.

Another one was killed in Ismailia after being shot in the head.

Three people were reported injured in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents in Beheira.

Violent clashes were also reported in the district of Sidi Gaber in Alexandria.

Security forces forcibly dispersed protesters in Alexandria earlier on Friday.

Police used teargas to disperse thousands of Morsi supporters in Daqahliya's Mansoura and Upper Egypt's Assiut. In both cities, gunshots were heard from the perimeters of the clashes.

Earlier in the day, security forces dispersed a smaller gathering of Morsi supporters in Mansoura and arrested 15 as they tried to escape into side streets.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy released a statement on Wednesday saying that 30 August would be “the beginning of a civil disobedience campaign to pressure the putschists to end the coup.”

Egypt's interior ministry announced ahead of Friday's protests that it would use live ammunition against protesters in "legitimate self defence."

The statement comes amid an ongoing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters after security forces forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on 14 August, which left hundreds dead and over a thousand injured.

Since then, security forces have arrested hundreds of the group's leaders and members. Senior Brotherhood officials are facing incitement charges.

Police have also announced they will prevent the establishment of fresh sit-ins.

Morsi supporters have been demonstrating for almost two months against the army's overthrow of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July following mass protests against his rule. Turnout on Friday by protesters was larger than protests the previous week, but still smaller than some analysts had anticipated.

A sweeping crackdown on Brotherhood leaders has seen most key figures arrested in recent weeks, impacting the group's ability to organise.

The interim government has accused Morsi supporters of committing "terrorist acts" against its opponents.

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