Aug 17 2013
Supporters of Egypt's ousted Islamist president are vowing to defy a state of emergency with new protests, the day after marches in Cairo devolved into the fiercest street battles that the capital has seen in more than two years.
More than 80 people were killed on Friday in what the Muslim Brotherhood group called a "Day of Rage" - ignited by anger at security forces for clearing two sit-in demonstrations earlier in the week, leaving hundreds dead. Police and armed vigilantes at neighbourhood checkpoints battled Muslim Brotherhood-led protesters, with the sight of residents firing at one another marking a dark turn in the conflict.
Military helicopters hovered over the centre of the city as residents furious with the Brotherhood protests pelted marchers with rocks and glass bottles. The two sides also fired on one another, sparking running street battles throughout the capital's residential neighbourhoods.
Across the country, at least 72 civilians were killed, along with 10 police officers, security officials said.
The violence capped off a week that saw more than 700 people killed across the country - surpassing the combined death toll from two and a half years of violent protests since the ousting of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak until the toppling of president Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood, in a July 3 coup.
Unlike in past clashes between protesters and police, Friday's violence introduced a combustible new mix, with residents and police in civilian clothing battling the marchers.
Few police in uniform were seen as neighbourhood watch groups and pro-Morsi protesters fired at one another for hours on a bridge that crosses over Cairo's Zamalek district, an upmarket island neighbourhood where many foreigners and ambassadors reside.
Friday's violence erupted shortly after midday prayers when tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters answered the group's call to protest across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the bloodshed earlier this week.
Armed civilians manned impromptu checkpoints throughout the capital, banning Brotherhood marches from approaching and frisking anyone wanting to pass through. At one, residents barred ambulances and cars carrying wounded from Cairo's main battleground, Ramses Square, from reaching a hospital.
Several of the protesters said they were ready to die, writing their names and relatives' phone numbers on one another's chests and undershirts in case they were killed in Friday's clashes.