If there is one day when the pent up tensions on both sides resulting from the Egyptian coup over a month ago may boil over and lead to an all out civil war (still unclear how John Kerry would "define" that one) today may be that day, as Cairo is braced for what may be the most violent confrontations yet with supporters of the deposed president Mursi calling for “day of rage” protests after Friday prayers, and the Egyptian polic (now using live ammo) and army set to crush any such "illegal" protests. Since millions are set to hit the streets, there is no way this will have a peaceful outcome.
As Egypt faces the gruesome aftermath of clashes that left hundreds dead, demonstrators plan to defy an emergency order and take to the streets to mark "Friday of anger."
The Muslim Brotherhood promised huge protests, and Egypt's military government showed no sign of easing its crackdown, setting the stage for what could become another catastrophic encounter of security forces and protesters.
"The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation," the Muslim Brotherhood said on its website Friday, while urging people to protest peacefully.
Military vehicles were deployed Friday across Cairo and Giza, taking up positions in squares and securing important institutions, the state-run EGYNews reported. The agency said armored vehicles and barbed wire blocked all entrances to Tahrir Square, and 22 armored vehicles were in Mustafa Mahmoud Square.
The state-run agency said the military increased checkpoints at all entrances to Cairo to prevent arms smuggling to protesters.
Also Friday, at least 20 police officers were wounded when assailants opened fire on two security cars north of Cairo, according to EGYNews.
The leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom will have phone conversations to discuss Egypt, the office of French President Francois Hollande said. Hollande planned to talk to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Egyptian authorities rejected criticism from President Barack Obama and other world leaders for Wednesday's ferocious clashes, which left at least 580 people dead when security forces broke up huge sit-ins in Cairo, according to the Health Ministry.
More than 4,000 were injured. Casualties included civilians, police officers and bystanders.
“The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation, an Islamic, national, moral, and human obligation which we will not steer away from until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered,” said a statement from the Anti-Coup Alliance, a coalition of Islamist groups dominated by Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The statement said the protesters would not resort to “violence or vandalism” but current intense tensions make a conflagration very likely. State media reported on Friday that the army was being deployed to guard “vital installations”. In central Cairo, there were military vehicles manned by soldiers and checkpoints with barbed wire, Reuters reported.
At least 578 people were killed in clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo and elsewhere, according to official figures. The Muslim Brotherhood claim many hundred more were killed. It is impossible to independently verify the number of dead. The rising toll meant that Wednesday’s raid by authorities on the protest camps had resulted in the deadliest day seen in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak.
- Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood call for fresh protests after Friday prayers
- It comes two days after more than 638 people lost their lives when security forces cleared Muslim Brotherhood protest camps
- A state of emergency is in force and the police are authorised to use live ammunition in self-defence
- Wednesday's bloodshed has drawn international condemnation
If and when the crackdown begins, we will be sure to webcast it live.