Egypt: More Deaths During Pro-Mursi ‘Day of Rage’

Photo: Elisa Iannacone

A pro-Mursi protester haul stones as they clash with security forces in Cairo.

At least six people were killed in Egypt Friday, where security forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who took to the streets in defiance of a government-imposed state of emergency.

Witnesses reported hearing crackles of gunfire in Cairo and other cities on Friday.

Television footage showed violent clashes involving protesters in the northern city of Tanta. News reports said security forces there fired tear gas and birdshot at supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters poured onto streets across Egypt after midday prayers.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement had called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday, two days after Egyptian police destroyed two large pro-Morsi camps in Cairo.

The government says 638 people were killed, but the Muslim Brotherhood says the death toll is in the thousands.

On Friday, Egyptian state television reported the army and police would deal firmly with those who violated the state of emergency. Earlier, the government said its forces would use live ammunition if any government facilities were attacked.

A VOA correspondent in Cairo says security forces had blocked major roads and increased the number of tanks and armored personnel vehicles in the city in anticipation of protests on Friday.

Shortly before morning prayers ended on Friday, cars careened through nearly-empty streets in an apparent bid to get home before protests and marches began.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande plans to speak by phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron Friday to discuss the events in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities accuse the Brotherhood and Morsi supporters of terrorism and sabotage. The Brotherhood says the country is returning to military tyranny.

U.S. President Barack Obama has canceled next month’s scheduled military exercises with Egypt.

Obama says traditional cooperation cannot continue when civilians are being killed in the streets.

Egypt’s interim interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, says police used minimum force against the camps and only fired tear gas. He blamed the Brotherhood for creating, what he called, a state of mayhem across the country by shooting at police, attacking government buildings and burning churches.

Members of the Egyptian Army walk among smoldering debris after the largest protest camp of Morsi supporters was cleared by security forces, Nasr city, Cairo, August 15, 2013.

An Egyptian walks among the burned remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, in the center of a camp of Morsi supporters that was cleared by security forces, Nasr city, Cairo, August 15, 2013.

An Egyptian takes video of the burning remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque after Mosi supporters were cleared from the area by security forces, Nasr city, Cairo, August 15, 2013.

Egyptians mourn over the bodies of their relatives in the El-Iman mosque at Nasr City, Cairo, Augusts 15, 2013.

A poster of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi lies on the ground as military police stand outside the burnt Rabaa Adawiya mosque, Cairo, August 15, 2013.

Egyptian government employees clean up as members of the Egyptians Army stand guard alongside the smoldering remains of the largest protest camp of Morsi supporters, Nasr City, Cairo, August 15, 2013.

Police officers perform an honor guard during a funeral for colleagues killed during clashes in Cairo, August 15, 2013.

A man kisses the forehead of his dead brother, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, at the El Eyman mosque in Cairo, August 15, 2013.