Middle East

Three killed in clashes at Egypt protests

A man makes a four-fingered gesture in support of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi at a protest in Cairo (10 January 2014) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In Cairo, protesters hurled stones at security forces and set vehicles on fire

At least three people have been killed in Egypt in clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, officials have said.

Two people died in the city of Suez in fighting that erupted when security forces dispersed a demonstration by Islamists after Friday prayers.

A street vendor was meanwhile shot dead in the second city of Alexandria.

In Cairo, hundreds of Morsi supporters called for a boycott of next week's referendum on a draft constitution.

The vote is the first stage in the "democratic transition" promised by the interim government after Mr Morsi was deposed by the military in July.

The Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its allies have called for a boycott and mass demonstrations aimed at limiting turnout.

But a crackdown on the Brotherhood, in which more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of others arrested, has limited its ability to mobilise supporters.

The interim authorities have also passed a new law that restricts protests by requiring permission to be sought for any public gathering of more than 10 people, allowing security forces to disperse unruly demonstrators, and imposing heavy prison sentences for violations.

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Media captionWafaa Hefny: The Egyptian revolution brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, "now they are behind bars"

In Friday's clashes, protesters in Alexandria set fire to tyres, vehicles and rubbish bins, and threw petrol bombs, flares and rocks at security forces, who fired tear gas in response, police said.

It is not clear who shot the street vendor. Two other people were injured.

A witness to the violence in Suez told the Associated Press that police fired tear gas and soldiers live ammunition even before protesters attempted to march from a mosque to the city centre.

Last Friday, at least 17 civilians were killed at protests across the country.

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