Cairo- Nearly 50 people were killed in weekend clashes that erupted during rival rallies marking the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak, the health ministry said yesterday.
Three years after Egyptians rose up to demand the overthrow of Mubarak, thousands of demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday chanted slogans backing another military man, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as police clashed with Islamists and activists elsewhere.
Forty-nine people were killed, the ministry said, in 24 hours of fighting across Egypt as police and supporters of the military-installed government clashed with Islamist backers of president Mohamed Morsy, who was deposed in July after a single turbulent year in power.
Egypt was already on edge after four bombs exploded in Cairo on Friday, including a massive blast outside police headquarters. The attacks, which were claimed by a Sinai-based extremist group, killed six people.
Hours before Saturday’s rallies, a small bomb outside a police training centre in north Cairo wounded one person, while another 16 were hurt when a car bomb exploded beside a police base in the canal city of Suez. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group, claimed Friday’s bombings, all of which targeted police, and urged “Muslims” to stay away from police buildings.
Security forces across Cairo moved quickly to disperse scattered pro-Morsy protests while welcoming demonstrators to sanctioned commemorations.
In the Muhandiseen district, police fired tear gas and birdshot at anti-government protesters outside a mosque, scattering them into side streets.
Of the 49 people killed, most died in Cairo and its suburbs, and others in Alexandria and Minya, the health ministry said yesterday, adding 247 people were injured. The interior ministry said 1,079 “rioters” were arrested.
One of the dead in Cairo was a member of the April 6 movement which spearheaded the uprising against Mubarak and had also opposed Morsy. “The regime has substantial and now energised support, a majority of the politically active citizens of this country,” said Michael Hanna, an expert on Egypt with The Century Foundation, a US-based think-tank.
Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for three decades, was forced to step down on February 11, 2011, after 18 days of demonstrations that left some 850 people dead. The military took power until Morsy’s election in June 2012, but then toppled him a year later after millions took to the streets demanding his resignation, accusing him of betraying the “revolution” that toppled Mubarak.