CAIRO – An Egyptian was shot dead after petrol-bomb throwing protesters clashed with police outside the presidential palace in Cairo, tapping a week of violence in which more than 60 people were killed.
"It's verified. I am at the morgue," one of the witnesses, lawyer Ragia Omran, told Reuters late on Friday, February 1.
“He was shot with two bullets, and that's the report of the hospital. The shots were in the neck and the right side of the chest.”
Medical and security sources confirmed Mohamed Hussein Qurany, 23, was killed with live bullets.
The latest clashes erupted after Egyptian opposition National Salvation Front called for nationwide protests on Friday against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Youths threw petrol bombs and shot fireworks at the outer wall of Morsi's Cairo presidential compound as night fell.
Police responded by firing water cannon and teargas leading to skirmishes in the surrounding streets.
The head of Egypt's ambulance service said at least 54 people had been wounded across the country, mostly in Cairo.
A statement on Morsi's Facebook page said the protesters sparked the violence by trying to break down the presidential palace gates and scaling its walls.
The head of the Republican Guard, which protects the palace, condemned what he described as attempts to climb the compound walls and storm a gate.
In a statement to the state news agency, he urged protesters to keep their demonstration peaceful.
After break out of violence, the opposition tried to distance itself from the violence outside the palace and urged protesters to exercise "utmost restraint."
But hours before the violence broke out, NSF leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei suggested unrest would persist if Morsi kept on sidelining his opponents.
"Writing on wall: violence and chaos will continue until Morsi and co. listen to people's demands: new government, democratic constitution, independent judiciary," he wrote on Twitter.
Exerting little influence over its activists, the opposition was blamed for its inability to end violent anti-regime protests.
“You have groups who clearly just want a confrontation with the state - straightforward anarchy; you've got people who supported the original ideals of the revolution and feel those ideals have been betrayed,” a diplomat told Reuters.
“And then you have elements of the old regime who have it in their interests to foster insecurity and instability. It is an unhealthy alliance.”
The main opposition National Salvation Front denied it was to blame for the demonstrations turning violent.
Morsi's office said it would "hold the political forces that may have participated in incitement fully politically responsible, pending results of investigation".
Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, on his Facebook page, blamed the unrest on “regional and international forces which aim for instability and to stir up problems and ignite strife to damage Egypt ... to thwart the democratic transition”.
Seeing renewed violence in the street, many Egyptians are fed up.
“We are exhausted,” said Abdel Halim Adel, 60, near the presidential palace.
“This protests thing is a political game whose price the people are paying. I hate them all - liberals and Brotherhood.”
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