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One dead, 150 Islamist protesters arrested in Egypt

world Updated: Dec 27, 2013 21:08 IST

AFP
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One man was killed and nearly 150 pro-Islamist protesters were arrested as clashes erupted across Egypt Friday, after authorities outlawed rallies by the Muslim Brotherhood, now designated a terrorist group.

Riot police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters in several cities, swiftly clamping down on rallies after the midday Friday prayers, the usual time for Islamist demonstrations.

The military-installed government has banned protests by Brotherhood members demanding the reinstatement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, after listing the movement as a terrorist organisation on Wednesday.

One person was shot dead in clashes in the city of Samalut in Minya province, south of Cairo, a hospital administrator said.

Interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told AFP police were investigating the man's death, adding that an officer was also wounded in clashes with Islamists in the province.

He accused the protesters of using firearms and petrol bombs.

Smoke rose from Al-Azhar university's student dormitory in Cairo as police fired tear gas against protesters pelting them with rocks from inside the building, AFP correspondents said.

A security official said protesters torched several police cars in Cairo and in Minya province.

The drastic decision to blacklist the Brotherhood came a day after a suicide bombing of a police building killed 15 people.

The government blamed the attack on the Brotherhood despite a claim of responsibility from a Sinai-based jihadist group.

Tensions rose even further after a home-made bomb exploded next to a bus on Thursday, wounding five people.

Police seemed intent on hunting down any suspected protesters on Friday, with more than a dozen armoured vehicles racing to a Cairo mosque after they received reports of Brotherhood members gathering there.

Officers combed nearby buildings searching for suspects and dragged two men out of a car, one of them with a beard.

Police also clashed with protesters in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, an AFP correspondent said, while state media reported that police fired tear gas at other protesters in the capital.

The interior ministry overnight said a man was killed in clashes around Al-Azhar university between Islamist students and civilians who oppose them.

The Brotherhood, which condemned Tuesday's suicide bombing, has denounced its listing as a terrorist organisation and vowed to continue staging peaceful rallies.

It has held near-daily protests since the military ousted Morsi on July 3, despite a crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people, mainly Islamists, and seen thousands more arrested.

The Brotherhood's designation as a terrorist group carries harsh penalties, with the group's leaders facing possible death sentences and protesters looking at up to five years in prison.

The move caps a dramatic fall for the Brotherhood since Morsi's ouster amid massive protests demanding his resignation following a year of deepening polarisation and plummeting economic conditions.

The Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s and has condemned the surge in attacks by Sinai-based militants, which have killed more than 100 soldiers and police, mainly in the restive peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.

But the interim government accuses the Brotherhood of using violence to derail the transition to elected rule, with a referendum on a new constitution planned for January to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections.