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Egypt deploys troops to Suez to quell ‘out of control’ clashes

Published: January 26, 2013 | 10:20 am
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Egypt deployed troops to the coastal city of Suez on Saturday after a security chief declared the area “out of control” following deadly clashes on the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
The announcement on state-run EGYNews followed reports that at least seven people were killed Friday, six in Suez when gunfire erupted during clashes between anti-government protesters and those loyal to President Mohamed Morsy.
Nationwide, according to health ministry officials, more than 450 protesters and 95 members of security forces were injured in demonstrations that marked Friday’s anniversary.
The news also came as Morsy, according to state-run al-Ahram, was holding a meeting with his defense council over how to calm the unrest. Prime Minister Hesham Kandil vowed to hold perpetrators accountable, according to state-run MENA.
It is the latest unrest to strike Egypt, which has been roiled in violent demonstrations that have targeted Morsy — who led the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that was banned under Mubarak — before he rose to power.
The protests erupted late last year when Morsy issued an edict allowing himself to run the country unchecked until a new constitution was drafted, a move that sat uncomfortably with many Egyptians who said it reminded them of Mubarak’s rule.
Morsy had said the powers were necessary and temporary.
He later rescinded the ruling after thousands took to the streets outside the presidential palace, where they clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even so, the protests have continued.
As the government deployed troops to Suez on early Saturday, thousands of protesters were engaged in a standoff with police overnight outside state-run Nile TV’s offices in Cairo. Some tossed Molotov cocktails at police, who in turn responded with tear gas.
Troops were deployed to Suez after the region was “declared out of control” by the head of provincial security, EGYNews reported. The security chief, Brig. Gen. Adel Refat, requested “the armed forces intervene” after police were fired upon, the news agency said.
Protesters accused Egyptian forces of opening fire during the demonstrations in Suez, a claim Refat vehemently refuted.
By Saturday morning, according to official Egyptian news agencies, armored military vehicles could be seen deployed throughout Suez, a city of about 500,000 on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez.
A seventh person was killed in clashes Friday in Ismailia, on the west bank of the Suez Canal, where protesters torched the main office of the Freedom and Justice Party — the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, state TV reported.
The violence prompted Morsy to issue statements on his official Twitter account, in which he offered his condolences for those killed and pledged his support for all Egyptians’ right to protest peacefully. At the same time, the president said the government won’t hesitate to prosecute those responsible for violence “and bring them to justice.”
“I call on all citizens to uphold the noble principles of the Egyptian revolution to express their opinion freely and peacefully, renounce violence in word and deed,” he said.
There also were protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the hub of the popular movement that began its push on January 25, 2011, to unseat Mubarak.
Back then, protesters spilled into the streets around that major intersection in an unprecedented display of anti-government rage. Since then, the square has continued to be a focal point for demonstrations for Egyptians from all factions.
One pocket of violence broke out a few blocks from the square, where police erected a barrier of concrete blocks on a street leading to the Interior Ministry and other government buildings.
Young protesters threw rocks over the barrier at officers stationed there, who responded sporadically with tear gas or threw stones themselves.
Egyptian police also fired tear gas to disperse protesters who tried to cross barbed wire outside the presidential palace, which is in the northeast of Cairo, Nile TV reported.


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