13 killed as clashes mar Egypt revolt anniversary

Cairo streets mostly deserted as residents stay home to avoid violence

The coffin of Shaimaa el-Sabagh is carried out of the Zenhom morgue in Cairo, Egypt early Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El-Gwad, El Shorouk Newspaper)
The coffin of Shaimaa el-Sabagh is carried out of the Zenhom morgue in Cairo, Egypt early Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El-Gwad, El Shorouk Newspaper)

CAIRO, Egypt (AFP) — Clashes between Islamist demonstrators and security forces left at least 13 people dead on Sunday, the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 revolt that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities had tightened security in Cairo and other cities after Islamists called for protests against the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former army chief who ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Demonstrators clashed with police, leaving 11 protesters dead in Cairo and another in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, a health ministry official told AFP.

Officials said the protester in Alexandria was shot dead by police after he opened fire on them.

And the interior ministry said protesters shot dead a police conscript in north Cairo clashes. Three other officers were wounded.

At least 134 people were arrested across the country as police dispersed protests, security officials said.

In downtown Cairo, police fired shotguns and tear gas against hundreds of protesters who tried to march on the central Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the early 2011 revolt that ousted Mubarak.

Armored vehicles were stationed around Tahrir Square, but despite extra security in the capital jihadists managed to set off a bomb in Cairo that wounded two policemen.

The interior ministry said the bomb exploded in eastern Cairo’s Alf Maskan neighborhood, where a similar blast on Friday wounded four policemen and a civilian.

Jihadist group Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) claimed both blasts.

Two suspected militants were also killed when they mistakenly blew themselves up in an attempt to sabotage an electricity tower in the Nile Delta province of Baheira, the interior ministry said.

Tensions had surged ahead of the anniversary, and a female demonstrator was killed in clashes with police during a rare left-wing protest in Cairo on Saturday.

Shaima al-Sabbagh, who friends said was 34 and the mother of a five-year-old boy, died of birdshot wounds, a health ministry spokesman said.

Fellow protesters said she was hit by birdshot when police fired to disperse the march. Prosecutors have launched a probe into her death.

An 18-year-old female protester was also killed on Friday in clashes in Alexandria.

Egypt has been gripped by political turmoil since Mubarak’s ouster, and by violent unrest since his successor Morsi was overthrown by then army chief Sissi.

Sissi toppled Morsi in July 2013 and has since led a crackdown on his supporters that has left hundreds dead.

Jihadist militants have in turn regularly targeted security forces, killing scores of policemen and soldiers.

‘Funeral of the revolution’

Ahead of the anniversary, police had warned they would “decisively” confront protests on Sunday. Morsi’s supporters often hold small rallies that police quickly disperse.

The capital’s streets were largely deserted, although a few Sissi supporters gathered outside Tahrir Square waving Egyptian flags and chanting “Long Live Egypt!”

Plainclothes police were checking identity cards and stopping people from heading to the square.

Security was beefed up elsewhere in Cairo, with machine gun-wielding police deployed on key streets.

“This is the funeral of the (2011) revolution,” Mamdouh Hamza, a prominent figure from the anti-Mubarak uprising, told an AFP correspondent in central Cairo.

“The murderer kills, and then joins the funeral procession. Nothing has improved or changed since Sissi took over.”

Activists, including those who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt, have accused Sissi of reviving much of Mubarak’s autocratic rule.

Sissi and his supporters deny such allegations, pointing to his widespread popularity and support in Egypt for a firm hand in dealing with protests, which are seen as threatening economic recovery.

The revolt against Mubarak erupted on January 25, 2011, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets across Egypt for 18 days until he stepped down.

The anti-Mubarak revolt was fueled by police abuses and the corruption of the strongman’s three-decade rule, but the police have since regained popularity amid widespread yearning for stability.

Most Popular
read more: