Three killed as clashes erupt in Egypt ahead new hearing in Morsi trial

Three killed as clashes erupt in Egypt ahead new hearing in Morsi trial

CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Three killed as clashes erupt in Egypt ahead new hearing in Morsi trial

Supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clash at Nasr City district in Cairo, January 3, 2014. REUTERS photo

At least three people were killed as supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed with police and opponents in two cities Jan. 3, security officials and medics said.

Thousands of backers of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated politician had rallied across the country before police intervened to disperse the protests with tear gas and birdshot.

The protests came after an Islamist alliance backing Morsi called for demonstrations ahead of a new hearing in Morsi's trial on Jan. 8.

One man was killed by birdshot to his chest in the Suez canal city of Ismailiya during clashes after weekly Muslim prayers, medics said, adding that eight others, including a police officer, were wounded.

Another man was killed and three were wounded in clashes in the city of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, security officials said. A third person was killed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

At least 122 people have also been arrested around the country, officials added. 

Cairo also rocked by protests

Police also fought street battles with protesters in several districts of the capital. Protesters in Cairo torched a police vehicle using Molotov Cocktails, a security official said. State media said residents extinguished the fire.

In the upscale Maadi neighbourhood, police fired tear gas near a military hospital as protesters threw fireworks at them, an AFP reporter said.

He said protesters clashed with the police on a road along the Nile river and also inside the suburb. The street was littered with rocks and burning wood as police vehicles sped up and down the road to disperse the protesters.

The demonstrators regrouped in a side street, facing off with riot police and chanting "They are the thugs!" Some protesters threw stones.

In an eastern neighbourhood of Cairo, police also used tear gas against thousands of Morsi supporters who burnt tyres and threw fireworks at security forces, another AFP correspondent said. Gunshots were also heard.

Protesters chanted "Down with military rule" and slogans against army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster in July.

Cairo's main squares were sealed off by security forces using barbed wire and military vehicles. They included Tahrir Square, as well as Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, which were the sites of a bloody crackdown on Morsi's supporters in August.
Over 1,000 killed

Since Morsi's ouster, his supporters have staged near-daily protests calling for his reinstatement, particularly after Friday prayers. But their numbers have dwindled amid a violent government crackdown.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Morsi's supporters, died in street clashes following his overthrow, and thousands have been imprisoned.

Friday's protests come as a pro-Morsi Islamist coalition spearheading the protest movement called for demonstrations ahead of the resumption of his trial on Jan. 8.

Morsi is being tried on charges of inciting the killings of protesters during his presidency. He will also stand trial on January 28 over a jailbreak during the 2011 popular uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak. A date for him to be tried on espionage charges has yet to be fixed.