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Egyptians gather for mass rival rallies following reported Morsi detainment

The largest crowds in more than two years of upheaval have filled Egypt’s cities. Ousted president Mohammed Morsi is under investigation, while the interior minister has promised to "legally" end a sit-in in his support.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters opposed to the ousted president Mohammed Morsi gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday. They came 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."

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood members were also out in mass on the streets in rival rallies.

Sissi's call for support signalled a major stepping up of the military's confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Demonstrations in Cairo remained mostly peaceful into the night, but it appears turned deadly in the early hours of Saturday, with reports of at least 16 Morsi supporters being killed during a clash with security forces.

Officials also said five people were killed and two dozen injured in the city of Alexandria, officials said.

Clashes have frequently broken out after dark during weeks of turmoil. Close to 200 people have died, many of them Brotherhood supporters.

Since Morsi was removed from power on July 3, tens of thousands of supporters have camped out at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya square as part of a campaign to have him reinstated.

Egypt's army-installed interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim said on Saturday the sit-in would be ended, but did not give details, such as whether the army or police would intervene.

"...there will be decisions from the prosecutor soon, and this situation will be ended," said Ibrahim.

It would be ended "in the framework of the law," he added.

Morsi detained

Meanwhile on Friday, 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.

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, the al-Ahram newspaper reported. 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.

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.

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.

hc, jr/mr (Reuters, AP, AFP)