Cairo — Egypt counted its dead on Saturday after Islamists enraged by the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi took to the streets in an explosion of violence against what they denounced as a military coup.
At least 30 people died and more than 1,000 were wounded after Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called “Friday of Rejection” protests across the country and tried to march on the military compound where the ousted president is held.
The most deadly clashes were in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, where 14 people died and 200 were wounded. In central Cairo, pro- and anti-Mursi protesters fought pitched battles late into the night with stones, knives, petrol bombs and clubs as armoured personnel carriers rumbled among them.
It took hours to restore calm. The Nile River bridges around the landmark Egyptian Museum where the street fights raged were still covered with the debris of rocks and shattered glass on Saturday morning. Both pro- and anti-Mursi activists remained encamped in different squares in the capital.
The Health Ministry said 30 people were killed throughout Egypt on Friday, and 1,138 injured, state media reported.
State-owned newspapers said the army-backed authorities that took power on Wednesday and suspended the constitution, would announce the appointment of a prime minister on Saturday to run the country during a transition period.
Former U.N. nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, 71, a leading liberal politician, was seen as the most likely candidate to lead an administration focused on reviving a shattered economy and restoring civil peace and security.
In an interview with Reuters, the country’s main leftist leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, endorsed ElBaradei for the tough job, saying the transition should be short to amend the constitution and elect a new president and parliament..
The military has given few details and no timeframe for a new ballot - adding to political uncertainty at a time when many Egyptians fear violence could polarise society even further.
Egypt’s first freely elected president was toppled after mass demonstrations against Muslim Brotherhood rule, the latest twist in a tumultuous two years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011.
Five police officers were gunned down in separate incidents in the North Sinai town of El Arish, and while it was not clear whether the attacks were linked to Mursi’s ouster, hardline Islamists there have warned they would fight back.