CAIRO -- Armed supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fought pitched battles Friday near Tahrir Square with crowds that had favored Morsi’s overthrow, in a worrisome sign of open conflict between the two sides.
Scores of people were injured in the hours-long clash, which began as the sun set and didn’t end until around 10 p.m., when soldiers and police arrived to impose order.
Elsewhere, Morsi supporters and the military also battled as his backers in the Muslim Brotherhood rallied to the streets in what their leaders called "Friday of rejection," demanding Mori’s return to power two days after he was deposed by the military.
The military shot at least one pro-Morsi demonstrator dead outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard, the elite military unit assigned to protect the president. The shooting occurred as Morsi supporters converged on the guard’s headquarters, where many think Morsi is being held. Guards and police opened fire as the crowd approached. A video of the incident posted online showed a man fatally shot in the head, just in front of the guards.
The Health Ministry said 12 people had been killed in Alexandria, the country’s second largest city.
In the Sinai, jihadists armed with advanced weapons smuggled from places such as Libya attacked military checkpoints in the early morning hours and battled Egyptian troops throughout the day. At least five soldiers were killed.
In Zagazig, Morsi’s hometown, about an hour north of Cairo, supporters and opponents clashed on the street, injuring dozens.
There were reports of Muslim Brotherhood members being arrested and crackdowns on the news media. Khairat el Shater, the deputy Brotherhood leader, was arrested, state media said. CNN also reported that while it was covering the clashes in Cairo, the military stole a camera during a live shot.
It was difficult to gauge the extent of violence nationwide or even how many Morsi partisans had turned out for the protests. The Health Ministry announced that 30 people had been killed and 790 injured across the country. But the military had shut down at least four television stations sympathetic to Morsi, blacking out what was happening in much of the country.
Still, there was little doubt that anger was high among Morsi’s supporters over the way his presidency had ended.
Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was thought to have been arrested Thursday, re-emerged Friday and offered to engage in talks with the military. But such talks would happen only after Morsi had been reinstated as president, he said, something that seemed highly unlikely.
The country’s new president, Adly Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, put on an air of normalcy, announcing who would be his legal and political advisers. He also dissolved the Islamist-based smaller chamber of Parliament, the Shura Council. The lower house of Parliament had been dissolved last year.
Tension was high throughout the day as pro-Morsi demonstrators gathered in pockets throughout Cairo.
While their numbers were far fewer than the huge throngs that had turned out for three days to demand Morsi’s resignation, their emotions were intense, and many here worried that the military’s decision to open fire, the exchange of gunfire near Tahrir Square and the Islamists’ willingness to go on the offensive and vow holy war seemed to portend a lengthy period of instability and, perhaps, Egyptians killing Egyptians.