At least four people are dead across Egypt, including a 14-year-old boy, after antigovernment protesters ransacked Muslim Brotherhood offices on Friday and tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of president Mohamed Morsi held dueling rallies in the capital, Cairo.
While the protests in Cairo remained peaceful, deadly clashes erupted in the port city of Alexandria, where protesters set fire to the Brotherhood’s headquarters. Security officials said that among the victims was an American citizen, a man who was stabbed to death near the headquarters.
Early Saturday, officials of Kenyon College in Ohio identified the American who was killed as Andrew Pochter, 21, a Kenyon student from Chevy Chase, Md. United States Embassy officials said he died during clashes between supporters and opponents of Mr. Morsi. At least two other people were killed in the Alexandria fighting, including a 14-year-old boy, Ahmed el-Deeb, and Mahmoud Suleiman, a 26-year-old laborer who died in the hospital on Saturday after being struck with birdshot in his head, state media reported.
The violence on Friday provided a dark prelude to planned mass protests on Sunday by Mr. Morsi’s opponents, who are demanding that the president step down and early elections be held. Fears about possible violence at the marches have preoccupied the country for weeks and further split Egypt’s deeply polarized political class.
In recent days, the army and Egypt’s highest religious authority have warned about the potential for deadly civil strife. On Saturday, President Obama expressed concern about the unrest and said his administration’s priority was the safety of its personnel in the American Embassy and consulates. The State Department warned Americans on Friday to defer “nonessential” travel to Egypt and said it was allowing some of its staff members and their families to leave the country.
Obama, speaking in South Africa, said his administration supported “peaceful protests” and urged all sides to denounce violence.
“We do not take sides in terms of who should be elected by the Egyptian people,” Mr. Obama said. “We do take sides in terms of observing a process for democracy and the rule of law.”
Pochter was an intern at AMIDEAST a nonprofit American group engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa. The internship was not a Kenyon program, the college said on its Web site. At least seven people have been killed in violent episodes over the last three days outside Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist party and the movement that brought Mr. Morsi to power, said that several of its supporters were killed in attacks on its offices and on mosques.