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Egyptian protests against Sissi presidential bid spark deadly clashes

Clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces have left several people dead, including a reporter. Islamist demonstrators were rallying against the presidential bid of ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Hundreds of supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi took to the streets of Cairo on Friday protesting

the recent decision

by the man responsible for his ouster, Sissi, to run for president. Rallies were held in several cities across Egypt, but it was the capital that saw the worst of the violence.

At least four people were killed in Cairo, including Mayada Shraf, who worked for the privately-owned Al-Dustour newspaper and freelanced for the Masr Alarabia news website. She was shot in the head while covering clashes in the northeastern suburb of Ain Shams.

Officials said the three other people killed Friday died in the same clashes.

Nationwide demonstrations

Hundreds of protesters supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that backed Morsi's bid for the presidency in 2012 and which has borne the brunt of the new government's anti-Islamist crackdown, demonstrated in cities around Egypt, including Alexandria.

At the Al-Azhar Islamic university in Cairo, students threw Molotov cocktails and stones at police, who responded with tear gas to break up the crowd, security officials said.

Ten Morsi supporters were arrested after clashing with security forces in Damietta, the officials added, and 28 more were detained in the southern Minya province for allegedly carrying leaflets hostile to the military and police.

Sissi seeks presidency

In his first interview since announcing his run for president, Sissi told the Egyptian al-Watan and Kuwaiti al-Rai papers Friday he was aware of the great responsibility before him, and would offer "a practical plan that could be implemented in reality on the short term."

"The people bore a lot of the past few years and it's time to harvest the fruit of two revolutions," he said.

Sissi resigned from his defense minister and deputy prime minister positions on Wednesday, enabling him to stand for the presidency. The 59-year-old

faces no serious competition

in the upcoming election.

The presidential election is slated to be held before June. According to state news agency MENA, the electoral committee has announced a press conference for Sunday to present the timetable for the vote.

Islamist crackdown

The Muslim Brotherhood, which organized Friday's protest, has vowed to continue their protests against Sissi and what they call his "republic of fear."

Police have killed hundreds of Islamist protesters and arrested around 15,000 protestors since Morsi's ouster last July. Earlier this week, 529 Morsi supporters were sentenced to death over deadly riots.

"What we said nine months ago was confirmed and the mask fell off from the face of the coup leader … with the announcement of his candidacy to 'the bloody presidency'," it said in a statement Thursday.

Sissi "broke the oath he made before the elected president Mohamed Morsi by toppling him and made the Egyptian army enter the political arena with him," the Brotherhood added.

dr/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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