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Morsi supporters, foes clash, 30 killed

The Associated Press

CAIRO -- Enraged Islamists pushed back yesterday against the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi as tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets vowing to win his reinstatement and clashed with their opponents in violence that killed 30 and wounded more than 200 nationwide.

In a battle on a bridge over the Nile River in Cairo, gunfire rang out and flames leaped from a burning car as the rival camps threw volleys of stones and fireworks at each other. Military armored vehicles raced across the bridge in a counterattack on Morsi's supporters.

The clashes accelerated after four supporters of the president were killed when troops opened fire on their rally -- and after a defiant appearance by the supreme leader of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. He proclaimed that his followers would not give up street action until the return of Morsi, swept from power Wednesday night by the military.

"God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace," Mohammed Badie told cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. "We are his soldiers, we defend him with our lives." Badie called upon the military to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the president, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull the forces away from its leadership.

Hours later, Badie's deputy, Khairat el-Shater, considered the most powerful figure in the organization, was arrested in a Cairo apartment along with his brother on allegations of inciting violence, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

After the speech, a large crowd of Islamists surged across 6th October Bridge over the Nile toward Tahrir Square, where a giant crowd of Morsi's opponents had been massed all day. Battles broke out there and near the neighboring state TV building.

Pro-Morsi youth shielded themselves from flying stones and fireworks with sheets of barricaded metal. A car burned at the top of an exit ramp amid the sounds of automatic weapons and shotguns.

"They are firing at us, sons of dogs! Where is the army?" one Morsi opponent shouted as another was brought to medics with his jeans soaked in blood from leg wounds. At least three people were killed at the bridge.

Across the country, clashes erupted as Morsi supporters tried to storm local government buildings or military facilities, battling police or Morsi opponents. Islamists descended on an anti-Morsi rally, opening fire with guns in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, where at least 12 people were killed, mostly Morsi opponents, emergency services official Amr Salama said.

One man was stabbed and thrown from the roof of a building by Morsi supporters after he raised an Egyptian flag and shouted insults against the ousted president, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

An umbrella group of Morsi opponents urged the public to take to the streets immediately "to defend popular legitimacy" against what they called a "malicious plot" by the Brotherhood.

The removal of Morsi followed mass demonstrations for four days this week by the president's opponents in the biggest rallies the country has seen.

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