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1 dead, scores injured on Egypt's 'Friday of Deliverance'

At least one protester is killed and scores injured in ongoing clashes outside Egypt's Presidential Palace; Muslim Brotherhood, opposition National Salvation Front exchange blame for bloodshed

Ahram Online, Friday 1 Feb 2013
presidential palace
Protesters throw fireworks on police in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo February 1, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 3530
Views: 3530

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Friday – in Cairo and across the country – to demand the dismissal of the current government of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, the amendment of Egypt's newly-approved constitution and the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.

Towards the evening, the protests – called for by 16 Egyptian opposition parties and movements – turned violent, especially near the Presidential Palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district. At one point, protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at the building, resulting in a limited fire in the palace garden.

In response, security forces fired volleys of teargas at demonstrators and later torched several tents that had been part of a sit-in.

By 9pm, the Egyptian Health Ministry announced that the total number of injured in Friday's clashes had reached 30, at least 24 of whom had been wounded outside the palace.

At around 9:30pm, a video surfaced online showing security forces deployed near the Presidential Palace stripping and beating a protester before throwing him in the back of a security vehicle.

Interior ministry officials later said that the incident shown in the footage would be investigated.

The situation escalated further when the presidency issued a statement condemning the assault on the palace and holding opposition "political forces" responsible for instigating the violence.

Soon afterward, a second statement was issued by the Muslim Brotherhood – the group from which President Mohamed Morsi hails – urging the same "political forces" to leave the palace's premises so as to avoid "the potential for violence."

Several of the opposition groups that had called for the protests released statements shortly afterward condemning the use of violence and urging their members to withdraw from areas around the palace.

"The National Salvation Front urges young activists at the palace to refrain from committing acts of violence and to employ exclusively peaceful methods,” NSF spokesman Khaled Daoud told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.

The NSF, Daoud added, also urged Egyptian security forces to show self-restraint and use only “legitimate means” when dealing with protesters.

Additional protests, meanwhile, were also seen in the cities of Port Said, Alexandria, Fayoum, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Qena, Suez and Arish.

In the Nile Delta city of Kafr El-Sheikh, 18 people were injured – from both sides – in clashes between protesters and security forces, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website. Clashes reportedly intensified after police fired teargas at demonstrators – who responded by hurling rocks – outside the local governor's office.

Minor altercations were also reported in other governorates. In Fayoum, anti-government protesters engaged in limited clashes with young Muslim Brotherhood members, although no injuries were reported.

At around 10pm, it was reported – and later confirmed – that 23-year-old protester Mohamed Hussein Korani had been killed during clashes outside the palace. According to hospital officials, Korani had sustained gunshot wounds to the neck and chest.

As of 11pm, clashes near the Presidential Palace remained ongoing, with security forces firing teargas and birdshot towards demonstrators who responded with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Limited skirmishes were also being reported in the coastal city of Alexandria.

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