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Protesters turn violent across Egypt

CAIRO — Violence erupted across Egypt on Friday as tens of thousands of demonstrators filled Tahrir Square to mark the second anniversary of the country’s revolution with an outpouring of rage against the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood. At least seven protesters and two police officers were killed in clashes in Suez, the state media said.

More than 250 people were injured in similar battles around government buildings across the country, including the Interior Ministry, the presidential palace, and the state television building in the capital. The deaths reported in the city of Suez took place near the provincial government headquarters, which protesters set on fire. Muslim Brotherhood offices were ransacked or burned in at least three cities, including Ismailia, the Suez Canal town where the group was founded 85 years ago.

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In the most striking episode, masked men attacked the offices of the Brotherhood’s website in Cairo, upending furniture, littering the floor with broken glass and papers, and smashing computers. Several witnesses said the assailants came in a large group to the third floor, carrying pellet guns and acid to burn through the padlock, and left with computer hard drives.

‘‘They said, ‘We are here to destroy this place,’ ’’ said Ragab Abdel Hamid, 36, a printer who works for a liberal organization in the same building and tried to contain the attack. ‘‘It was planned.’’

Unknown assailants had blasted the metal doors to the same office with a fire bomb just days before, leaving flame marks, and the gates had been refortified.

The violence — from Alexandria in the north to Aswan in the south — dramatized the deepening chasm of animosity and distrust dividing the Brotherhood from its opponents. Although the Islamists of the Brotherhood have dominated elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, another broad segment of the population harbors deep suspicions of the group’s conservative ideology, hierarchical structure, and insular ethos.

Those doubts were only redoubled last month when President Mohammed Morsi, with the Brotherhood’s political party, temporarily overruled the authority of the judiciary in order to ensure that his Islamist allies could push through an Islamist-backed constitution to referendum over the objections of other parties and the Coptic Church.

“Egyptians will never let the Muslim Brotherhood rule — over our dead bodies,’’ said ­Heba Samir, 36, catching her breath by the Nile after fleeing tear gas outside the state television building.

In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day revolt two years ago, the chaos demonstrated more clearly than ever that Morsi and his allies have inherited not ­only the presidential palace but also the blame for Egypt’s myriad problems.

Five months after Morsi took power from Egypt’s interim military rulers, many demonstrators said they had returned to Tahrir Square on Friday because they blamed the Brotherhood for failing to fulfill the demands of 2011: ‘‘bread, freedom, and social justice,’’ as the chants went at the time.

But instead of uplifting the society, the revolution has brought two years of turmoil and a near-collapse of the economy. The constitution that the Brotherhood pushed to a referendum last month deeply divided the country, with opponents complaining it fails to protect individual liberties. In Tahrir Square on Friday, banners demanded the fall of the ‘‘Brotherhood Constitution.’’

‘‘The Egyptian people had so many dreams and the reality on the ground is, everything is still the same,’’ said Mohamed Adl, 41, a teacher who carried a sign with a handwritten poem accusing the Brotherhood of making ‘‘injustice the guard of our lives.’’

The violence began Thursday in Cairo. In anticipation of the anniversary, protesters began dismantling concrete barriers that had been erected around the Interior Ministry building to contain earlier demonstrations.

The security forces began firing tear gas to stop them, and more than two dozen people were injured in intermittent battles that lasted through the night.

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