December 18, 2014
Egypt: Brotherhood clashes with police leave thirteen dead
Thirteen people were shot dead as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood clashed with police across Egypt today, defying an ever-widening state crackdown on the movement that ruled the country until six months ago.
Islamists opposed to the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July have been holding daily demonstrations, even after the army-backed government declared his Brotherhood a terrorist group last week, increasing the penalties for dissent.
In the Cairo district of Nasr City riot police in bulletproof vests fired teargas at protesters throwing fireworks and stones. Similar clashes erupted across the country, as has become commonplace after midday prayers each Friday, not a working day in Egypt.
The Health Ministry said five protesters were killed in different districts in Cairo. A security source said they died from bullet wounds, though it was unclear if the police or armed civilians had shot them.
One of the five was a man who was shot dead by the protesters after he yelled insults at pro-Brotherhood demonstrators marching near his house, the source said.
A male protester and a woman were shot dead in the coastal city of Alexandria, medical and security sources said. It was not clear whether the woman was a protester or an onlooker.
Two were shot dead by police in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia after a march set off from a mosque after midday prayers, medical sources said.
In the rural province of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, three protesters, including a student, died from bullet wounds to the chest and head, local Health Ministry official Medhat Shukri told Reuters.
Another university student was shot dead during clashes in the southern town of Minya. The Health Ministry said 58 people were wounded nationwide.
Police arrested 122 Brotherhood members for possession of weapons, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The Brotherhood says its supporters are unarmed.The power of the Brotherhood - the country's oldest and best organised Islamist movement - has been dramatically eroded by the arrests, having its leaders' assets frozen and the designation of the group as a terrorist organisation.
A new constitution to be voted on at a referendum on January 14-15 will also ban religiously based political parties and give more power to the military.
The army-backed authorities says the constitution will pave the way for a return to democratic rule by mid-year.