CAIRO — Riot police clashed with supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president on Friday, leaving 11 dead in ongoing street battles where an increasing number of protesters are carrying firearms ahead of a key referendum they are urging a boycott of later this month.
Fighting spread through heavily populated residential areas in several cities and provinces including Cairo, Giza, Ismailia, and Fayoum, as hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters threw rocks at security forces who responded with water cannons and tear gas.
Black smoke hung in the air as protesters burned tires and hurled Molotov cocktails and fireworks at black-clad security forces. A number of police vehicles were set on fire, public buses were damaged, and main roads blocked by protesters.
The Health Ministry said that 11 people, including three in Cairo, were killed and more than 52 injured in the protests. A Brotherhood-led alliance said on its Facebook page that the death toll had reached 19.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that 122 Brotherhood protesters were arrested carrying homemade grenades and Molotov cocktails.
Violent protests have been recurrent since the military ousted Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 coup after millions of anti-Islamist protesters demonstrated to demand his resignation.
Friday’s protests appeared to be the largest and most violent since a three-month state of emergency and nighttime curfew expired in November.