2 Dead and 20 Injured in Cairo's Clashes + Video

Fri Nov 28, 2014 21:52:14

4 people including an army general and a soldier were killed and at least 20 were wounded on Friday in a drive-by shooting and clashes that erupted during Islamist protests around Egypt, security sources and health officials said.

The army and police had fanned out across Cairo and other cities in anticipation of rallies called by an Islamist group that opposes the military's overthrow of ousted president Mohamed Morsi last year.

Hours before the small marches left from mosques, gunmen in a car killed a brigadier general in a shooting outside a hotel in the east of the city that also left another soldier dead and one wounded, the military and health officials said.

The assailants fled and were not identified, but protests by Islamists are increasingly giving way to armed attacks amid a deadly security crackdown that has killed hundreds of people and left thousands in jail.

In Cairo's working class district of Matariya, at least two people were killed when protesters clashed with police, health and security officials said.

A health ministry official said one had been shot in the chest. A friend identified him as Mohammed Hassan, and told AFP the dead man was an Islamist who had regularly attended anti-government demonstrations."The police fired randomly at the protesters," he said.

Egyptian army and police exchange fire with an armed man on the top of a building in Alexandria on November 28, 2014. Firing came from the building after the police positioned themselves on the road where protesters rallying, according to an AFP photographer.

However, the interior ministry said police came under fire from the protesters, and officers arrested one of them carrying a shotgun.

In all 224 people were rounded up by police, the ministry said, for planning or carrying out acts of violence during the protests. Nearly half of them were arrested before the demonstrations got underway. 

Smaller marches, quickly dispersed by police, were reported elsewhere.In Cairo's Haram district, only about 20 protesters turned up and fled at the sight of police.

Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi sits behind the defendant’s cage during a trial at the police academy court in Cairo on November 5, 2014. Morsi is on trial in several cases and faces a death sentence if convicted of espionage and terrorism related charges

The protests were called by the little-known Salafi Front, part of a loose network of Islamists who oppose the army's overthrow of the Islamist Morsi in July 2013.

The interior ministry said in a statement that police experts had defused eight rudimentary bombs across the country.

Also on Friday, an army officer and a policeman were wounded in an exchange of gunfire with unknown assailants in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Islamists, particularly Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, were the strongest political bloc in Egypt before the military toppled him, following mass demonstrations demanding his resignation.

Morsi's ouster led to a deadly crackdown on his supporters that has killed hundreds. Thousands have also been arrested and jailed.

The Brotherhood has also been blacklisted as a terrorist group, making mere membership of the 86-year-old organization punishable by a prison sentence.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Morsi and won a presidential election earlier this year, has pledged to eradicate the group.

The Brotherhood insists it is peaceful, but the crackdown that has caused it to go underground is believed to have radicalized some of its members.

Egypt's most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has sworn allegiance to so-called Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot which fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The deadliest attacks on security forces have been claimed by the militant Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group that is spearheading an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

The group has killed scores of policemen and soldiers and recently pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group that controls parts of Iraq and Syria.

After an October ambush killed more than 30 soldiers, the government declared a state of emergency in part of Sinai and razed hundreds of homes to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

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