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Pro- and Anti-Morsi Demonstrators Clash Across Egypt

July 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
In Egypt's streets, with crowds of protesters in the hundreds of thousands, violent confrontations broke out between supporters and detractors of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Margaret Warner has an update on conflict over the military's involvement in Egyptian politics.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And to Egypt, where hundreds of thousands took to the streets again today, this time from opposing camps.

Violent confrontations flared between backers of former President Mohammed Morsi and those who ousted him two days ago. The Muslim Brotherhood called it a day of rejection. The number killed was in dispute. The Egyptian Health Ministry reported a death toll of at least 17 countrywide, with more than 200 injured.

Margaret Warner has our story.

MARGARET WARNER: It was a day of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi continued to celebrate in Tahrir Square today, as military jets flew overhead, and army tanks guarded the presidential palace and other strategic points around the city.

But tens of thousands of Morsi supporters called to protest by his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party massed at a prominent Cairo mosque and elsewhere.

SAFWAT HEAGAZY, Muslim Brotherhood Preacher: I am telling the ministry council that this is treason. This is a shame and the Egyptian people will not accept this. You don’t have the right to choose who rules Egypt.

MARGARET WARNER: The Egyptian military deposed Morsi Wednesday and installed the former chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim president.

Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who’d reportedly been detained earlier, appeared before the Cairo rally. With military helicopters circling above, he vowed to fight for Morsi’s reinstatement.

GENERAL GUIDE MOHAMMED BADIE, Muslim Brotherhood: The army is now involved in politics once more, and we say to them, it’s time for you to return to your people and protect the borders. This is your role. As for our role, we will, God willing, be open to anything once our elected President, Mohammed Morsi, is returned.

MARGARET WARNER: After Badie spoke, many in the audience streamed across a bridge toward Tahrir Square and engaged in clashes with some of the anti-Morsi crowd.

Earlier, other encounters turned violent too. At least one protester was said to have been killed when pro-Morsi demonstrators marched on the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo. They believed the former president was being held at the barracks there, but Morsi’s location remains unknown.

MAN: We were standing peacefully in the garden here, holding a picture of Morsi, and then one member of the Republican Guard tore up the picture and an altercation happened. They fired shots in the air. One person fell next to me. His blood is still on my hands now.

MARGARET WARNER: An army spokesperson later denied troops fired live ammunition, saying soldiers only used blank rounds and tear gas. There was violence elsewhere as well. In the Sinai Peninsula overnight, suspected Islamist assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades at army checkpoints near an airport and the Israeli border, killing at least one Egyptian soldier.

Meanwhile, according to state television, interim President Mansour appointed a new chief of intelligence and issued a decree dissolving the upper house of parliament. The military has pledged there will be new presidential and parliamentary elections soon.