Clashes in Egypt as Morsi backers vow to ‘defend him with our lives’

Clashes in Egypt as Morsi backers vow to ‘defend him with our lives’

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi took to the streets on Friday as the political unrest in the country threatened to spiral into factional violence.

Egypt's Health Ministry said 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Friday's clashes.

Soon after troops reportedly opened fire on protesters supporting Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie spoke before a crowd and called for Morsi to be reinstated as president.

Morsi "is my president and your president and the president of all Egyptians," Badie proclaimed while thrusting his arms in the air, according to the AP. "We are his soldiers, we defend him with our lives."

After the speech, backers of the Brotherhood streamed across a Nile River bridge toward Tahrir Square, where masses of people were celebrating Morsi's ouster.

Reuters reported that three protesters were shot and killed Friday during demonstrations outside the Republican Guard barracks where the military is believed to be holding Morsi.

Hundreds of people marched on the barracks, approaching a barbed wire fence that surrounded the building where troops stood guard, according to the AP.

After protesters hung a sign of Morsi on the barrier, the soldiers responded by throwing tear gas and firing on the crowd, the news service reported, and several protesters had wounds typical of birdshot.


The Egyptian army said its troops did not open fire on the protesters, according to Reuters, and used only blank rounds and teargas.

Morsi was removed from power on Wednesday by the military and taken into custody amid widespread protests calling for his resignation. But the threat of violence has escalated as pro-Morsi protests organized by the Muslim Brotherhood grow.

The AP reported that one Egyptian soldier was killed in the Sinai Peninsula Friday by Islamist militants in a coordinated attack on an airport with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns.

After removing Morsi from power, the military arrested Muslim Brotherhood leaders and shut down pro-Brotherhood television stations. Adli Mansour, who had been appointed chief justice of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court earlier this week, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday.

President Obama said Wednesday he was “very concerned” by the Egyptian military toppling the government and suspending the constitution, calling for the military to “move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government.”

The Obama administration has avoided calling the takeover a “coup,” which could threaten the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt. By law, the U.S. cannot provide aid to countries ruled by the military.

The administration says it’s reviewing the legal implications of the military’s takeover.

--This report was originally published Friday at 2:13 p.m. and last updated on Saturday at 5:55 a.m.