CAIRO -- Clashes between protesters and the police in Port Said that entered their second day yesterday have dragged in the military to a dramatic extent into the nation's turmoil.

At times in the violence, frictions have arisen between police battling protesters and army forces trying to break up the fighting.

Troops between the two sides were overwhelmed by police tear gas. One army colonel was wounded by live fire, and troops even opened fire over the heads of police, bringing cheers from protesters.

Three policemen and three civilians were killed, and troops stood by as protesters torched a government complex containing the city's main police building.

The scenes, following three weeks of strikes and protests in the city, have underlined a scenario that many in Egypt view with a mix of concern and relief -- that the military may move back into politics, prompted by mushrooming protests, a breakdown in law and order and mounting challenges to the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Some opponents of Morsi have outright called for the military to take power, and even those who say they oppose a military return have used the prospect to pressure Morsi to find some consensus in the political crisis. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei warned of decaying state institutions and rising violence. -- AP

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