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Conflict on rise in Egypt as protesters take to the streets

Tensions have risen further in Egypt as supporters and opponents of ex-president Mohammed Morsi clashed. Protests staged around the country have come a day after a nationwide state of emergency was extended.

Unrest in Egypt has heightened since the July coup that toppled the elected government, with the military-backed interim regime targeting members of the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood.

In response, thousands of Morsi supporters have taken to the streets. There, they have met resistance from the military and anti-Morsi demonstrators.

According to state media, one person was killed and five injured when supporters and opponents of Morsi clashed in Alexandria, while police reportedly used tear gas to control fighting in the Nile Delta towns of Tanta and Mahalla.

In the Sinai peninsula, Egyptian troops and helicopters attacked Islamist militants. Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and arrested thousands since the ousting of Morsi, who in June 2012 became the country's first democratically elected president. Many protestors have gone to ground, but some have braved the threat.

"After all the massacres and after seeing people die in front of my eyes, you have to take to the streets," Haitham Mohammed, 28, told the Associated Press news agency while demonstrating in eastern Cairo's Nasr City. Mohammed said he lost three friends in the army's dismantling of one of three protest camps on August 14.

The Brotherhood have called for more protests to be staged on Saturday.

The man who led the coup, General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, enjoys widespread popularity among Morsi's opponents and speculation is growing he will run for president.

The decision on Thursday to extend the state of emergency by another two months had drawn quick criticism from the US, with State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf urging “the interim government to end it immediately.”

Brotherhood wins support

In a speech released a day after the 12th anniversary of the September 11 strikes, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri called the crackdown on the Brotherhood a "brutal crime."

The Egyptian Zawahri, who was tortured by authorities under Morsi's predecessor Hosni Mubarak, accused the US of conspiring with the interim government.

"This is an episode of a long drama that awaits Egyptians if they don't unite to implement Shariah Islamic law and free their country," he said.

ph/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)