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Update:Egypt deploys tanks outside Morsi Palace

December 6, 2012

At least five people have been killed and over 400 injured in overnight clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo

At least four tanks deployed outside the Egyptian presidential palace in a street where supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi had been clashing into the early hours of the morning, witnesses said.

Three armoured troop carriers were also in the street outside the palace. The violence that had stretched from Wednesday afternoon into the early hours of Thursday had abated and the streets were calm.

The soldiers’ badges identified them as members of the Republican Guard, whose duties include guarding the presidency.

Traffic was moving through streets strewn with rocks thrown during the violence. Hundreds of Mursi supporters were still in the area, many wrapped in blankets and some reading the Koran.

Angry mobs battled

An early Thursday report by state television quoted the Health Ministry as saying five people were killed and 446 people were injured as angry mobs battled each other with firebombs, rocks and sticks outside the presidential complex long into the night.

The fighting erupted late Wednesday afternoon when thousands of Morsi’s supporters descended on an area near the presidential palace where some 300 of his opponents were staging a sit-in.

Members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood chased the protesters away from their base outside the palace’s main gate and tore down their tents.

After a brief lull, hundreds of Morsi opponents arrived and began throwing firebombs at the president’s backers, who responded with rocks.

The deployment of hundreds of riot police did not stop the fighting. The police later fired tear gas to disperse Morsi’s opponents.

By dawn, the violence had calmed. But both sides appeared to be digging in for a long struggle, with the opposition vowing more protests later Thursday and rejecting any dialogue unless the charter is rescinded.

Morsi, for his part, seemed to be pressing relentlessly forward with plans for a December 15 constitutional referendum to pass the new charter.

The large scale and intensity of the fighting marked a milestone in Egypt’s rapidly entrenched schism, pitting the Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Islamists in one camp, against liberals, leftists and Christians in the other.

The violence spread to other parts of the country on Wednesday. Anti-Morsi protesters stormed and set ablaze the Brotherhood offices in Suez and Ismailia, east of Cairo, and there were clashes in the industrial city of Mahallah and the province of Menoufiyah in the Nile Delta north of the capital.

There were rival demonstrations outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters in the Cairo suburb of Moqatam and in Alexandria, security officials said senior Brotherhood official Sobhi Saleh was hospitalised after being severely beaten by Morsi opponents.

Saleh, a former lawmaker, played a key role in drafting the disputed constitution. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Compounding Morsi’s woes, four of his advisers resigned Wednesday, joining two other members of his 17-member advisory panel who have abandoned him since the crisis began.

The opposition is demanding that Morsi rescind the decrees giving him nearly unrestricted powers and shelve the controversial draft constitution, which the president’s Islamist allies rushed through last week in a marathon, all-night session shown live on state TV.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition reform advocate, said late Wednesday that Morsi’s rule was “no different” than Mubarak’s.

“In fact, it is perhaps even worse,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told a news conference after he accused the president’s supporters of a “vicious and deliberate” attack on peaceful demonstrators outside the palace.

“Cancel the constitutional declarations, postpone the referendum, stop the bloodshed, and enter a direct dialogue with the national forces,” he wrote on his Twitter account, addressing Morsi.

For More Info and Video click Link:  http://aje.me/VlmC8C

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