CAIRO — At least 44 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in clashes during protests in Egypt on Sunday, security sources and state media said, as the crisis since the army seized power three months ago showed no sign of abating.
Fighting began after supporters and opponents of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets. Most of the dead had gunshot wounds, security sources said.
At Ibn Sina hospital in the Mohandiseen district of Cairo, a Reuters reporter saw eight bodies shrouded in blue and white sheets among pools of blood.
"The interior ministry and the army killed my son," screamed Sabah el-Sayed, mother of Rami Imam, 29, stroking his leg.
Abdelrahman al-Tantawi, a medic who brought Imam to the hospital, said he had seen police and army firing from a bridge at pro-Brotherhood demonstrators.
He said Imam had a bullet wound in his back. Reuters could not independently verify that account of events.
Most of the dead were in Cairo, security and medical sources said. Another security source said 13 were killed in the Ramses train station area.
Clashes broke out between followers of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptians who support the military, a reminder that tensions remain deep three months after the army takeover of the Arab world's most populous country.
Egyptian authorities had warned on Saturday that anyone who protested against the army during ceremonies marking an attack on Israeli forces during the 1973 war would be regarded as an agent of foreign powers, not an activist.
Protesters chanted "The coup is terrorism" and "Sisi is a killer." The Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, said it holds Sisi and the Interior Ministry responsible for Sunday's deaths.
"We call on all human rights organizations to condemn the crimes committed today. We call for an international investigation into the crimes of today," it said in a statement.
Cairo's Dokki district was littered with rocks and thick with tear gas. Security forces fired in the air in the capital and Egypt's second city Alexandria, witnesses said.
Thousands of members of the Brotherhood, which was recently banned, reached within five city blocks of Tahrir Square — the rallying point for protestors during the revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
POLICE PUSH BACK
Police fired tear gas to try and keep them away from the square, where people gathered for celebrations to commemorate an attack on Israeli forces during the 1973 war when Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal and brought down fortifications.
Riot police also beat protesters who headed towards Tahrir, said a Reuters reporter at the scene.
In a show of force, military fighter jets roared overhead. Military helicopters trailing Egyptian flags, as they did during mass protests that lead to Mursi's overthrow, buzzed over the densely populated capital.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and most influential Islamist group, has demonstrated repeatedly against the army's overthrow of Morsi.
By Sunday afternoon state television broadcast live footage from Tahrir Square and Alexandria showing crowds waving Egyptian flags and carrying photographs of Sisi.
Sisi has promised a political roadmap would bring free and fair elections and stability to Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the political transition, saying the army-backed government installed by Sisi is illegitimate.
Authorities have cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, which won every election after Mubarak's fall but became unpopular during Morsi's rule, with many Egyptians accusing him of trying to acquire sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy. He denies the allegations.
The Brotherhood accuses the army of sabotaging democracy by ousting Mursi, the first freely-elected president in Egypt, a key U.S. ally which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the Suez Canal, a vital global trade route.
The military says it was acting in line with the will of the people.
On August 14, Egypt's military-backed authorities smashed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, with hundreds of deaths, and then declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew. Many of the Brotherhood's leaders have been arrested since.
Egyptian authorities have tightened security around the country since clashes killed at least four people on Friday, when Morsi's supporters mounted their boldest demonstrations since troops crushed their protest camps.