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Egypt: Violence escalates as Sisi calls for Friday protests - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this Wednesday, April 24, 2013 file photo, Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reviews honor guards during an arrival ceremony for his U.S. counterpart at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo. (AP/Jim Watson, Pool)

In this Wednesday, April 24, 2013, file photo, Egyptian defense minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reviews honor guards during an arrival ceremony for his US counterpart at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo. (AP/Jim Watson, Pool)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—As supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohamed Mursi continue to face off across the country, Egypt finds itself in the midst of a deteriorating security crisis. This security crisis looks set to worsen after Egypt army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for mass protests on Friday against “violence” and “terrorism.”

At least nine people were killed and 86 injured in overnight confrontations between Mursi supporters and opponents across the country, according to a Health Ministry spokesman yesterday. Pre-dawn clashes near the main campus of Cairo University left six dead when unknown assailants attacked two pro-Mursi encampments before security forces could intervene.

Protesters near the pro-Mursi stronghold of Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City also came under attack, but there were no reports of fatalities.

At least one person was killed and many others injured on Monday afternoon when pro-Mursi supporters attempted to gain entry to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of anti-Mursi sentiment in Cairo. State television reported that security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowds and separate the opposing demonstrations.

Another two people died in clashes on the northern outskirts of Cairo.

On Wednesday, at least one Mursi supporter was killed during a protest march in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that police in civilian clothing opened fire on the protest using live ammunition. The Brotherhood have accused Egypt’s security forces of hiring “thugs” in plain clothing to attack pro-Mursi protests, an accusation that security officials have denied.

More than 100 people have died in clashes between supporters and opponents of the military coup that removed Mursi from office.

The violence looks set to intensify as Egypt’s army chief called on Egyptians on Wednesday to hold mass demonstrations to voice their support for the military.

This call came in reference to a bomb blast targeting the security headquarters in the northern city of Mansoura that killed one and injured 28. This direct attack on the Egyptian police force suggests that the campaign of violence against Egyptian police force is spreading.

Egypt’s police and security forces have come under increased pressure from suspected Islamic militants operating out of the Sinai Peninsula, exploiting the political and security instability in the country to step up their operations.

Earlier this week, a civilians and policemen were reported killed in northern Sinai, close to the border with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Commenting on the lack of security in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon said: “We hear reports every day of attacks there and our concern is that the guns will be turned on us.”

“We have indeed strengthened our deployment along the border,” he added.