Rival rallies for Egypt anniv amid bombingsAgence France-Presse . Cairo
A spate of deadly bombings put Egyptian police on edge Saturday as supporters and opponents of the military-installed government prepared rival rallies for the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
Hours before the rallies were due to start, a small bomb outside a police training centre in north Cairo wounded one person, the health ministry said, a day after four blasts, including a car bombing outside police headquarters, killed six people.
An al-Qaeda inspired group — Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Partisans of Jerusalem — claimed responsibility for the bombings, all of them targeting police, and urged ordinary Egyptian ‘Muslims’ to stay away from police buildings.
Police deployed across the capital as supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, toppled by the military in July, readied counter-demonstrations to the commemorations called by the authorities.
Police fired tear gas to disperse one protest as soon as it gathered outside a Cairo mosque, an AFP correspondent reported.
The protesters included both Morsi supporters and activists who accuse the military of hijacking the government.
The Islamists had announced plans for marches from more than a dozen Cairo mosques on Saturday to launch 18 days of protests.
On Friday, clashes pitting Morsi supporters against their opponents and police killed 15 people nationwide, the health ministry said.
Police, who have killed hundreds of Islamist protesters in street clashes since Morsi’s overthrow, have vowed to put a stop to their planned demonstrations.
But they have encouraged Egyptians to turn out in support of the interim government, and some politicians called for rallies to back army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who overthrew Morsi in July.
By afternoon, several thousand pro-government demonstrators had already gathered in Tahrir Square, epicentre of the popular revolt that toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The interim prime minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, briefly visited the demonstrators before heading to a police hospital to check on those wounded in Friday’s attacks, a spokesman said.
At least four people were killed nationwide when police and supporters of the military-installed government clashed with Islamist backers of president Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed in July after a single turbulent year in power.
Five Egypt embassy staff kidnapped in Tripoli
Kidnappers seized Egypt’s cultural attache and three other embassy staff in Tripoli Saturday a day after another of its diplomats was abducted, the Libyan foreign ministry said.
‘The cultural attache and three other staff were kidnapped in Tripoli,’ ministry spokesman Said Lassoued said. The US embassy called on nationals to ‘limit their movements... to the near vicinity of their neighbourhoods.’ Britons were urged to ‘stay inside’.
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