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Gunfire near Cairo barracks, deaths reported

A gun battle has erupted in Cairo as supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi tried to march toward barracks where it is thought he is being held. Initial reports said several people were shot dead.

A march by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Morsi toward barracks in Cairo where he was presumed held ended in bloodshed on Friday. Initial reports said at least two people were shot dead outside the barracks. An army spokesman quoted by Reuters said troops had only fired blank rounds and teargas. A Reuters journalist said he saw at least eight demonstrators hit and wounded by shotgun pellets.

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Muslim Brotherhood stands by Morsi

The news agency AFP said shooting was heard coming both from Republican Guards, who had warned protestors not the approach the compound, and armed individuals among the ranks of protestors.

Shots rang out after one Morsi supporter tried to hang a picture of the ousted leader on barbed wire outside the headquarters, said AFP.

The crowd dispersed as tear gas rounds were fired. Military helicopters flew periodically overhead.

Morsi has not been seen in public since the military deposed him late on Wednesday after millions of Egyptians had staged four days of protest demanding his departure and accusing him of squandering his mandate since his election last year.

Risk of clashes

Friday's shooting in Cairo coincided with a series of protests by Morsi supporters.

Earlier on Friday, thousands had filled a boulevard outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, several blocks away from the Republican Guard barracks, demanding that Morsi be reinstated.

Low-flying military jets screeched across Cairo's skyline as the protests began.

Protests by Morsi supporters also took place in Alexandria and the Suez city of Ismalia, where soldiers fired into the air as Morsi backers tried to break into the governor's office. Security sources said there were no casualties.

Egypt's liberal coalition, which had opposed Morsi, issued an "urgent call" on Friday for its supporters to take to the streets. That raised the risk of clashes between rival groups.

On Friday, the African Union suspended Egypt's membership in the bloc. Earlier, US President Barack Obama had said he was "deeply concerned" over the developments in Egypt, but refrained from calling the military intervention a coup.

ipj/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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