Egypt army deploys tanks near Prez palace, 5 killed in clashes

Dec 06 2012, 20:27 IST
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SummaryViolence continued as Mursi's opponents attacked headquarters of Freedom and Justice Party.

Egyptian army today deployed tanks outside the Presidential Palace and ordered rampaging mobs to clear the area after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi killed at least five people and left nearly 700 injured.

Tanks and armoured cars were positioned outside the Presidential Palace as hundreds of Mursi's supporters chanted slogans in his favour, amid growing unrest over a controversial draft Constitution.

The Egyptian army then began to clear the area around the presidential palace ordering demonstrators and media organisations to vacate the place.

It followed violent overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mursi that left five people dead and 644 injured, media reports said.

Violence continued today as Mursi's opponents attacked the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, in several cities.

However, there was no word on it from the Presidency which said Mursi is likely to deliver a speech shortly.

Also today, Egypt's top Islamic body called on Mursi to suspend a decree in which he claimed sweeping powers and demanded an unconditional dialogue between the president and his opponents.

The Al-Azhar institution said, Mursi should "suspend the latest decree and stop using it," in a statement.

By this morning, the Republican Guard had deployed at least 10 tanks and troops outside the palace.

Supporters of Mursi responded to a call to rally outside the Presidential Palace yesterday, while the mainly secular opponents of the President were already staging a sit-in protest there.

Protesters fired guns and threw firebombs and rocks at each other as stand-off over Mursi's expanded powers continued.

Riot police were finally sent in to control the situation, but clashes still took place in side streets near the presidential compound yesterday.

Four Mursi advisers have resigned over the crisis, official news agency MENA reported.

The head of state television has also quit in protest, the Al-Masry al-Youm reported.

Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said yesterday the vote on the draft Constitution was still scheduled for 15 December. He, however, added that the "door for dialogue" remained open.

Egyptian diplomatic missions have announced that they will boycott supervision of the referendum on the Constitution if it goes ahead as planned on December 15.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders and their supporters, meanwhile, headed to the Presidential Palace to express support for Mursi.

The Brotherhood announced that one of their members was among the five people killed in the clashes.

Separately, the National Salvation Front led by Mohamed Al-Baradei denounced the violence and noted that

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