Seven people were killed and 261 wounded when supporters of Mohamed Morsi clashed with opponents of the former president and security forces in Cairo overnight, the head of Egypt’s emergency services said. Some 401 people were arrested over the clashes.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators were attempting to block vital main road that runs through the center of the Egyptian capital.
Gas canisters were reportedly fired into a throng of protesters who chanted “peaceful, peaceful” and”the police are thugs,” wrote Egyptian site Ahramonline.
Two policemen were injured in scuffles, according to Ahram Online. At least 22 protesters have been injured in clashes on the 6th October Bridge and on Ramsis Street, Egyptian Ambulance Organization head Mohamed Sultan said. Meanwhile, activists reported on Twitter that up to 300 protesters suffered tear gas inhalation.
Egypt’s interior ministry claimed that it had to resolve to using force after activists halted traffic and attacked security forces.
The ministry said that protesters were warned “against disrupting public order” before tear gas was fired.
The ferociousness of the protests corresponded with the announcement by Egypt’s public prosecutor that arrest warrants had been issued for seven senior Islamist figures – including members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The men are charged with instigating violence during the latest power change in Egypt.
The list includes Essam el-Erian and Mohamed el-Beltagi, both of whom were attending a demonstration on Monday, Reuters reported.
The two individuals were ordered to be apprehended last week, but so far have not been arrested.
The protests also coincide with the visit of a senior US official, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who went to Egypt following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi.
Burns met with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and urged Egyptians to return to civilian rule. He also called on all parties involved to engage in dialogue.
The US position on the conflict remains to put “an end to all violence and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government,” a statement from the US State Department said.
The violence is the first altercation involving pro-Morsi supporters in a week. Last Monday 53 pro-Muslim Brotherhood activists perished in massive clashes in Cairo. The army subsequently blamed the deaths on demonstrators.