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Court detains Morsi on suspicion of collaboration with Hamas as thousands protest

Ousted President Mohammed Morsi has been detained by a Cairo court for suspected ties to the Palestinian militant group Hamas during Egypt's 2011 revolution. The announcement came ahead of rival mass rallies in Egypt.

A Cairo judge reportedly ordered Morsi to be detained for 15 days, according to the Egyptian state news agency MENA and the online edition of al-Ahram newspaper. The judge had questioned the ousted leader before handing down the order.

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Morsi faces Hamas claims as protests flair

Officials were investigating Morsi - who is backed by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood - for carrying out "hostile acts" against Egypt during the popular uprising in early 2011, al-Ahram newspaper reported on Friday. The uprising led to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak.

The allegations included conspiring with the Palestinian group Hamas "to carry out anti-state acts, attacking police stations, army officers and storming prisons, setting fire to one prison and enabling inmates to flee, including himself, as well as premeditated killing of officers, soldiers, and prisoners," according to MENA.

Morsi would face further interrogation under the court order as part of a larger probe by the court, to determine how dozens of Muslim Brotherhood leaders broke out of jail in January 2011.

'Return' of Mubarak regime

The Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad El-Haddad called the court's conduct a signal of the return of Mubarak's regime.

"The accusations read as if they're retaliation from the old regime, signaling 'We're back in full force,'" he told the news agency AFP.

The court order was the first indication of Morsi's whereabouts in more than 20 days. The military has been holding Morsi, without charge, at an undisclosed location since removing him from power on July 3.

Morsi's disappearance from public has contributed to heightened tensions between his opponent and supporters. Morsi's followers are demanding his reinstatement as a democratically elected official.

Earlier this week, Morsi's family threatened to take international legal action against Egyptian officials for "kidnapping" their father.

Rallies in Egypt

Tens of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday in response to army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's call for Egyptians to show their support for the military's crackdown on "violence and terrorism."

Large crowds of Morsi supporters also gathered for their own rallies as part of what the Brotherhood said would be their biggest protests yet demanding the ousted president's reinstatement. 

By mid afternoon clashes had broken out between rival protesters. At least two people were killed and 19 wounded in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria when the two sides threw stones and fired birdshot. Police and army forces tried to break up the fighting using tear gas. A further 10 people were wounded during clashes in Cairo. The majority of Friday's mass rallies, however, remained peaceful.

Security was especially tight in Tahrir Square after el-Sissi had vowed to protect protesters. It included extra police deployments and tanks parked outside the square.

kms,dr/tm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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