Death toll rises in Egypt after war-anniversary clashes

The health ministry said 271 people had been wounded in the clashes. Most of the casualties were Morsi supporters, security sources said. (AFP)

The health ministry said 271 people had been wounded in the clashes. Most of the casualties were Morsi supporters, security sources said. (AFP)

The death toll from clashes in Egypt rose to 53 on Monday before calm returned to the streets after one of the bloodiest days since the military toppled president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Traffic flowed normally in central Cairo where thousands of Morsi supporters battled security forces and army supporters on Sunday, on the anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel.

State radio said security forces had regained full control of Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. In addition to the dead, the health ministry said 271 people had been wounded in the clashes. Most of the casualties were Morsi supporters, security sources said.

Further confrontations may shake Egypt this week. An alliance that includes Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has urged Egyptians to stage more protests against the army takeover from Tuesday and gather on Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

Political tensions since the army unseated Morsi on July 3 have unnerved foreign investors and hammered tourism, a pillar of the economy, but there is no sign of reconciliation between the Brotherhood and the army-backed government.

Security forces smashed pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on August 14, killing hundreds of people. In an ensuing crackdown, many Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested in an attempt to decapitate Egypt's oldest Islamist movement.

Agent of foreign powers
Authorities had warned that anyone protesting against the army during Sunday's 1973 war anniversary would be regarded as an agent of foreign powers, not an activist – a hardening of language that suggests authorities may crack down harder.

The Brotherhood remains defiant, organising demonstrations, even if they are much smaller than ones staged weeks ago.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in an interview published on Monday in a privately owned Egyptian newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm, said Egypt's national interests differed from those of the Brotherhood as an organisation.

Sisi, in the interview conducted before Sunday's violence, also spoke about his previous meetings with Morsi, whose time in office he said had driven Egypt in the direction of civil war.

"I told Morsi in February you failed and your project is finished," al-Masry al-Youm quoted Sisi as saying.

Sisi denied Brotherhood allegations that the army had intended to remove Morsi through a coup, saying it had only responded to the will of the people.

Before Morsi's overthrow, Egyptians disillusioned with his year-long rule had held huge rallies demanding that he quit.

Last month, a court banned the Brotherhood and froze its assets, pushing the group, which had dominated elections held in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak's fall in 2011, further into the cold. – Reuters

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