AFRICANGLOBE – At least six people were killed in Egypt Friday, where security forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who took to the streets in defiance of a government-imposed state of emergency.
Witnesses reported hearing crackles of gunfire in Cairo and other cities on Friday.
Television footage showed violent clashes involving protesters in the northern city of Tanta. News reports said security forces there fired tear gas and birdshot at supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters poured onto streets across Egypt after midday prayers.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement had called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday, two days after Egyptian police destroyed two large pro-Morsi camps in Cairo.
The government says 638 people were killed, but the Muslim Brotherhood says the death toll is in the thousands.
On Friday, Egyptian state television reported the army and police would deal firmly with those who violated the state of emergency. Earlier, the government said its forces would use live ammunition if any government facilities were attacked.
Security forces had blocked major roads and increased the number of tanks and armored personnel vehicles in the city in anticipation of protests on Friday.
Shortly before morning prayers ended on Friday, cars careened through nearly-empty streets in an apparent bid to get home before protests and marches began.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande plans to speak by phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron Friday to discuss the events in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities accuse the Brotherhood and Morsi supporters of terrorism and sabotage. The Brotherhood says the country is returning to military tyranny.
U.S. President Barack Obama has canceled next month’s scheduled military exercises with Egypt.
Obama says traditional cooperation cannot continue when civilians are being killed in the streets.
Egypt’s interim interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, says police used minimum force against the camps and only fired tear gas. He blamed the Brotherhood for creating, what he called, a state of mayhem across the country by shooting at police, attacking government buildings and burning churches.