CAIRO - At least eleven people were killed as supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi clashed with police and opponents in three cities Friday, security officials and medics said.
Thousands of the Islamist’s backers had rallied across the country before police intervened to disperse the protests with tear gas and birdshot.
The protests came after an Islamist alliance backing Morsi called for demonstrations ahead of a new hearing in Morsi’s trial on Wednesday.
One man was killed by birdshot to his chest in the Suez canal city of Ismailiya during clashes after weekly Muslim prayers, medics said, adding that eight others, including a police officer, were wounded. Another man was killed and three were wounded in clashes in the city of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, security officials said.
And in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, a third person was killed, officials said. At least 122 people have also been arrested around the country, they said. Police also fought street battles with rock-throwing protesters in several districts of the capital.
Protesters in Cairo torched a police vehicle using petrol bombs, a security official said. State media said residents extinguished the fire.
In the upscale Maadi neighbourhood, police fired tear gas near a military hospital as protesters threw fireworks at them, an AFP reporter said.
He said protesters clashed with the police on a road along the Nile river and also inside the suburb.
The street was littered with rocks and burning wood as police vehicles sped up and down the road to disperse the protesters. The demonstrators regrouped in a side street, facing off with riot police and chanting “They are the thugs!”
In an eastern neighbourhood of Cairo, police also used tear gas against thousands of Morsi supporters who burnt tyres and threw fireworks at security forces, another AFP correspondent said.
Protesters chanted “Down with military rule” and slogans against army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who led Morsi’s ouster in July.
Cairo’s main squares were sealed off by security forces using barbed wire and military vehicles. They included Tahrir Square, as well as Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, which were the sites of a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s supporters in August.
State news agency MENA reported a number were wounded by birdshot in clashes in Alexandria and that Morsi supporters torched two civilian cars.
Since the Islamist president’s ouster, his supporters have staged near-daily protests calling for his reinstatement, particularly after Friday prayers.
But their numbers have dwindled amid a violent government crackdown.
More than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, died in street clashes following his overthrow, and thousands have been imprisoned.
Friday’s protests come as a pro-Morsi Islamist coalition spearheading the protest movement called for demonstrations ahead of the resumption of his trial on Wednesday.
Morsi is being tried on charges of inciting the killings of protesters during his presidency.
He will also stand trial on January 28 over a jailbreak during the 2011 popular uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
A date for him to be tried on espionage charges has yet to be fixed.
Egypt’s military-installed government declared Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” last month after accusing it of a suicide car bombing at a police headquarters that killed 15 people.
The Brotherhood denied the accusation, and an Al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The designation carries harsh penalties for offenders, including possible death sentences for the movement’s convicted leaders and five-year jail terms for protesters.
Promoting the Brotherhood either in writing or verbally can also lead to prison sentences.
“We are not afraid, we love Egypt and what we are doing is for Egypt,” said protester Mohamed Dahi, 39, as he distributed leaflets calling for boycotting a referendum on a new constitution to be held later this month.
“I am against all injustice and the military rule. I won’t accept any military rule in Egypt,” he told AFP as he participated in a protest along with his 10-year-old son.