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Egypt death toll 53 as calm returns

By Agencies in Cairo, Egypt | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-08 07:18

The death toll from clashes in Egypt rose to 53 on Monday as calm returned to the streets after one of the bloodiest days since the military toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July.

Traffic flowed normally in central Cairo where thousands of Morsi supporters had battled security forces and army supporters on Sunday on the anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel.

State radio said security forces had regained full control of Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. In addition to the dead, the Health Ministry said 271 people were wounded in the clashes. Most of the casualties were Morsi supporters, security sources said.

Further confrontations may shake Egypt this week. An alliance that includes Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has urged Egyptians to stage more protests against the army takeover from Tuesday and gather at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

Political tensions since the army unseated Morsi on July 3 have unnerved foreign investors and hammered tourism, a pillar of the economy, but there is no sign of reconciliation between the Brotherhood and the army-backed government.

Egypt death toll 53 as calm returns

Several neighborhoods of the capital, Cairo, resembled combat zones after street battles that raged for hours.

Morsi's supporters fired birdshot and threw firebombs at police who responded with gunshots and tear gas. Streets were left strewn with debris, and the air was thick with tear gas and smoke from burning fires.

On Sunday evening, a concert was aired live on state TV from a military-run Cairo stadium where pop stars from Egypt, Lebanon and the Gulf sang anthems to the army and dancers twirled on stage before a cheering crowd. Military chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, other top brass and interim President Adly Mansour attended the show.

"There are those who think the military can be broken," el-Sissi said in an address at the concert. "You see the Pyramids? The military is like the pyramids, because the Egyptian people are on its side."

The street battles were the latest chapter in the turmoil roiling Egypt since the ouster in February 2011 of Hosni Mubarak. The new violence is certain to set back efforts by the interim, military-backed government to revive the economy and bring order to the streets of Cairo, where crime and lawlessness have been rife.

Morsi was Egypt's first civilian and first freely elected president, succeeding four since the early 1950s who hailed from military backgrounds. But after a year, Morsi was faced by massive protests demanding his ouster, accusing his Muslim Brotherhood of taking over power.

Security forces smashed pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on Aug 14, killing hundreds of people. In an ensuing crackdown, many Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested in an attempt to decapitate Egypt's oldest Islamist movement.

Authorities had warned that anyone protesting against the army during Sunday's 1973 war anniversary would be regarded as an agent of foreign powers, not an activist - a toughening of language that suggests authorities may crack down harder. The Brotherhood remains defiant, organizing demonstrations, even if they are much smaller than ones staged weeks ago.

Sissi, in an interview published on Monday in a privately owned Egyptian newspaper, said Egypt's national interests differed from those of the Brotherhood as an organization.


 Egypt death toll 53 as calm returns

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi run for cover from tear gas during clashes with riot police in Ramsis Street in downtown Cairo on Sunday. Ahmed Gamel / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 10/08/2013 page12)

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