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At least one dead, 237 hurt in Egypt clashes

Supporters and opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi clashed today, resulting in at least one person being killed.

Image: Hassan Ammar/AP/Press Association Images

AT LEAST ONE person was killed and 237 were hurt in clashes between supporters and opponents of Mohamed Morsi Wednesday, the health ministry said, as Egypt’s Islamist president prepared to address the nation on his first year in power.

Islamists had been holding a pro-Morsi rally in the Nile Delta city of Mansura when opponents began throwing rubbish at them and fighting erupted, a security official said.

Two people were taken to the intensive care unit with live bullet wounds, said the Mansura International Hospital, where the patients are being treated.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Gehad al-Haddad, said one person was killed in the clashes.

The clashes come amid widespread tension ahead of planned anti-Morsi rallies on Sunday to coincide with the president’s first year in office.

Pro- and anti-Morsi gatherings are being held around the country, but confrontations have only erupted in Mansura, a security official said.

Morsi is to speak at 1930 GMT, to highlight his achievements.

In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, hundreds of anti-Morsi protesters gathered to watch the president’s speech.

Some have announced they will begin a sit-in there.

Others have gathered outside the defence ministry, waving Egyptian flags and chanting against the president.

In Alexandria and several Nile Delta provinces, Islamist groups have held rallies in support of him.

Egypt is deeply polarised.

Morsi’s supporters say he is an elected president who is working to root out decades of corruption in state institutions. Any attempt to remove him from office would be a coup against democracy, they say.

His opponents accuse him of concentrating power in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails and of failing the aspirations for freedom and social justice that inspired the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

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Egypt’s powerful army, which has been on the sidelines of politics since Morsi’s election, warned it would intervene if violence breaks out in the country.

The military has brought in reinforcements of troops and vehicles in key cities in order to protect vital establishments in case of potential unrest, security officials said.

The clashes come amid widespread tension ahead of mass anti-Morsi rallies planned on Sunday. With Islamist parties having called for their own rallies to support the president on Friday, there are fears of more unrest.

Organisers of a campaign dubbed Tamarod (rebellion in Arabic) say they have collected more than 15 million signatures in support of a snap presidential election just a year after Morsi took power.

- © AFP, 2013

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