Tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Three people were killed in clashes in the Nile Delta region.
Three people were killed late Friday in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, Health Ministry officials said. At least two of the dead were believed to be women. Gunshots and birdshots were fired, though security officials said it was unclear by whom, during fighting between angry residents of the town and Morsi supporters.
The deaths come after rival protests were staged across Egypt during the day, with tens of thousands of people gathering in Cairo calling for Morsi to return to power.
Pro-Morsi activists had said Friday would be an important day in their efforts to undo the military coup that overthrew the president more than two weeks ago. Dubbed "Breaking the Coup," marches were staged outside military installations and in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and several other cities.
The military, meanwhile, put on a symbolic show of force, which included fighter jet flyovers and helicopters hovering above the marches. Early on Saturday, army helicopters could be seen dropping Egyptian flags on the thousands of Morsi opponents gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Soldiers prevented protesters from nearing the army installations and there were reports of minor scuffles, with the military using teargas to disperse protesters, according to state media.
The army had warned protesters ahead of Friday's demonstrations, saying those who resorted to violence would "endanger" their lives "and be treated with utmost decisiveness, within legal bounds."
Friday's protests follow the swearing in of Egypt's interim cabinet just a few days ago. Included in that cabinet were Christians and members of the liberal coalition opposed to Morsi. There were no Islamists, however, and the Muslim Brotherhood refused to take part in talks with the interim leadership headed by Morsi's army-installed successor Adly Mansour.
Morsi is currently being held at an undisclosed location by the military and many other Brotherhood officials have also been detained. The Brotherhood's TV station, as well as several other stations seen as sympathetic to Morsi, was taken off the air.
The UN's top human rights official Navi Pillay has asked the new Egyptian government to explain the legal basis for the detentions, which Morsi supporters have called part of a targeted crackdown, and say whether trials are planned.
"We've specifically asked about [Morsi] and his presidential team in addition to others who were arrested. We don't even know how many people at this point." Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.
dr/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)