Egypt crisis turns violent, 5 die in clashes
06 December 2012, 12:12
Cairo - Five demonstrators died overnight on Thursday in the worst
violence since Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first Islamist president in
The five were killed by gunfire or buckshot as nearly 350
others were wounded when allies and foes of Morsi clashed around the
presidential palace in Cairo, state news agency MENA said.
started off by lobbing fire bombs and rocks at each other on Wednesday
as their simmering standoff over the president's expanded powers and a
new constitution turned violent.
Morsi drew the wrath of the opposition and many in the magistrature by assuming exceptional powers under a November 22 decree.
protesters were seen carried away as gunshots rang out and the rivals
torched cars and set off fire crackers near the presidential palace,
where opponents of Morsi had set up tents before his supporters drove
Riot police were eventually sent in to break up the
violence, but clashes still took place in side streets near the palace
in the upscale Cairo neighbourhood of Heliopolis.
In the early hours of Thursday gunshots rang out intermittently and sporadic violence continued, an AFP correspondent said.
Many of the opposition had left and a few hundred protesters remained outside the palace.
violence spread beyond the capital, with protesters torching the
offices of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood in the Mediterranean port
city of Ismailiya and in Suez, witnesses said.
Sobhi Saleh, a
Brotherhood official and member of the constituent assembly - the body
that drafted the controversial charter - was attacked and beaten by
opposition protesters in the northern city of Alexandria, MENA reported.
The Brotherhood urged protesters on both sides to withdraw, as did Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.
United States, Britain and the European Union all appealed for
restraint and dialogue, as did the prestigious Islamic institution
Al-Azhar, based in Cairo.
"It's a civil war that will burn all of us," said Ahmed Fahmy, 27, as the clashes raged behind him.
[Islamists] attacked us, broke up our tents, and I was beaten up," said
Eman Ahmed, 47. "They accused us of being traitors."
Activists among the Islamist marchers harassed television news crews, trying to prevent them from working, AFP reporters said.
Ali, a 40-year-old Morsi supporter with a long beard, said: "I'm here
to defend democracy. The president was elected by the ballot box."
the heart of the dispute is a decree by Morsi in which he gave himself
sweeping powers, and the hasty subsequent adoption of a draft
constitution in a process boycotted by liberals and Christians.
despite the protests prompted by the decree two weeks ago, Vice
President Mahmud Mekki said a referendum on the charter "will go ahead
on time" as planned on 15 December.
The opposition would be
allowed to put any objections they have to articles of the draft
constitution in writing, to be discussed by a parliament yet to be