Updates: Violence erupts at several Brotherhood marches

Several satellite screens showed images of members of a Muslim Brotherhood march shooting gunfire on May 15 Bridge, west of Cairo, on Friday afternoon.

The violence started as Egypt braced for a nationwide protest on Friday, dubbed “the Friday of Wrath” by the Brotherhood, two days following the forcible dispersal of their sit-ins by the army and the police. 

Marches headed to Ramses Square have already started moving from Omraneya, Mourad Street and Istiqama Mosque. 

Mada Masr witnessed clashes between protesters in residents in the nearby area of Azbakiya.

Violent clashes broke out in the Azbakiya area near a large protest of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, and the exchange of gunfire is ongoing between protesters and residents.

A Mada Masr reporter on the scene said it started when some youths urged others to march towards Boulaq Abou el-Ela, a neighborhood known to be well-armed, near Ramses. Residents there have come into confrontations with pro-Morsi supporters before.

Some youth from the protesters started throwing stones even though others urged them to retreat, after which clashes erupted with residents of the area.

A Mada Masr reporter said, “Protesters who instigated the clashes at Azbakiya station were all youths. They had a yellow and red skull and crossbones flag. The majority of the crowd was urging them to retreat and physically trying to move them but they refused. That’s when civilians joined.”

Some protesters stuck in the gunfire on October 6 Bridge by Azbakiya Police Station had to jump off to escape the bullets. There was shooting seen coming from the station.

State media reported that protesters fired at the Azbakiya Police Station.

A special forces police officer told Mada Masr that the march over May 15 Bridge included some armed protesters who were firing randomly in the air. When they got to Aboul al-Ela, they clashed with residents in the area. They then turned around and went back towards Mohandiseen, where an eyewitness said they were heading towards Sphinx Square, some with visible weapons.

Clashes also broke out in Giza when security forces stopped a march from Istiqama Mosque heading towards Nahda Square. State news agency MENA says protesters attempted to attack the Mar Guirgis Church and the Giza Diocese in Mourad Street but were stopped by the police.

The Interior Minsitry called on citizens to avoid Galaa Square and Ramses and the Nile Corniche to allow it to “combat terrorism.”

Borrowing a name from the January 28 “Friday of Wrath” that led to former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in 2011, today’s protests were expected to turn violent. They follow two days of scattered violence around Egypt, as Brotherhood supporters clashed with police and residents in various locations. 

The Brotherhood had announced that the day will be marked by 28 marches starting from several mosques in Cairo, according to the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy.

“Despite our pain for the loss of martyrs and the suffering of the injured, the crimes of the coup regime have made us more determined to reject it,” the coalition said in a statement on Friday. The coalition also vowed that the protests will remain peaceful. 

In an address to his followers on Friday, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie said that protests will not stop because the Egyptian people want freedom. He added that the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, who belonged to the group, is part of its plan to take over and rule Egypt. 

Meanwhile, the army deployed tanks around Tahrir Square, blocking all entrances, ahead of the Brotherhood’s planned protests. 

According to the latest death toll announced by the Ministry of Health on Thursday, 638 people were killed during Wednesday’s violence.