The Muslim Brotherhood has called on Egyptians to protest in a "day of rejection" supporting Mohammed Morsi. Violent clashes have occurred around the country since the military overthrew the president earlier this week.
The Muslim Brotherhood organization, which backs Morsi, announced peaceful protests for Friday under the slogan "day of rejection."
Morsi's Islamist supporters accuse the military of staging a coup to overthrow their democratically elected leader after nationwide protests in which millions of people called for his removal. Many opponents of the former president insist there was no coup and that the army simply listened to the "will of the people" and forcibly removed Morsi from office.
The military said "exceptional and autocratic measures against any political group" should be avoided. However, the army has been systematically rounding up top Muslim Brotherhood officials, including its supreme leader General Guide Mohammed Badie for "inciting the killing of protesters," security sources said. Morsi himself was placed under house arrest and prosecutors were investigating charges of insulting the judiciary.
Television stations owned or seen as sympathetic to the Brotherhood were taken off the air and the state printer did not run the organization's party newspaper on Thursday. Morsi and 35 other Brotherhood officials have also had a travel ban imposed on them.
Several militants publicly warned of violence in retaliation to Morsi's ouster.
A soldier was killed early Friday in an attack by Islamist militants, medics said. Gunmen ambushed several army and police positions with machine gun fire and rockets. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Clashes in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya broke out just hours after Chief Justice Adly Mansour was sworn in as Egypt's interim president until new elections can be held.
In the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, the capital of Morsi's home province, 80 people were injured. Witnesses said pro-Morsi supporters were attacked by men on motorcycles, leading to clashes with sticks, knives and bottles before the army intervened to seal off the area.
The military published a statement on its spokesman's Facebook page saying it supported the right to peaceful protest, that violence and civil disobedience would "harm social peace."
Military chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced Morsi's overthrow Wednesday after a year in office. The army had issued an ultimatum for the former president to reach a solution to the country's political unrest, which el-Sissi said Morsi failed to achieve.
Germany called the move "a major setback for democracy in Egypt," while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said civil rule should return as fast as possible. The Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, meanwhile, congratulated the country's new interim president. Saudi King Abdullah also thanked el-Sissi for using "wisdom" in resolving Egypt's political crisis and avoiding "unforeseen consequences."
US President Barack Obama notably did not call Morsi's overthrow a coup, but said he had ordered a review of the recently approved $1.5 billion (1.2 million euros) in aid to Egypt following the country's latest political developments.
dr/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)