CAIRO — Clashes between security forces and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood spread across Egypt on Friday, killing dozens of protesters as gunfire erupted and vigilantes, some brandishing whips and pipes, roamed neighborhoods and cheered soldiers moving through the streets.
Fierce violence broke out as tens of thousands of supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi marched toward Ramses Square in downtown Cairo. Police and men in civilian clothes fired tear gas, birdshot and live bullets as protesters rushed the dead and wounded into a makeshift hospital in a nearby mosque.
Doctors at the hospital said at least 52 protesters had been killed. Media reports said more than 15 others died in clashes that spread to Ismailia, Damietta, Fayoum and other cities. Egypt’s new military-backed government said there were nine confirmed deaths nationwide.
The bloodshed came a day after the Interior Ministry announced police would use “live ammunition in the face” of any attacks. That warning did not deter surges of protesters angry over raids by security forces on two sit-ins Wednesday that killed more than 600 Morsi supporters.
“I have no gun. I have no knife. I only have my body marching here. If I am killed, it is for my freedom,” said Issam Ibrahim, an engineer, as army helicopters buzzed overhead. “Can the military withstand this kind of pressure? I doubt it. It may take days, weeks, but we are marching for legitimacy.”
“You tell the world,” said another man. “You tell the world what we are doing.”
The marches were dubbed the “Day of Rage” and they edged this nation further into chaos.
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