Violence erupts in Egypt, supporters of Morsy turn out

CAIRO (CNN) -- Violence erupted here Friday as supporters of Mohamed Morsy turned out en masse, calling for his restoration to the presidency two days after his ouster in a military coup.

A number of Morsy supporters were wounded by gunshots as they tried to storm the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, state broadcaster Nile TV said Friday.

Morsy was said to be held there, CNN's Reza Sayah reported from outside the building.

He said he had seen a body around which scores of Morsy supporters were huddled, some of them crying. A few feet away, thousands of demonstrators faced off across a barbed-wire barricade against a line of soldiers, who then detonated flash grenades and fired tear gas in an apparent attempt to get the demonstrators to move away.

Many of them did just that, though some remained in defiance. Demonstrators could be seen carrying away a wounded man. Some demonstrators waved flags and held pictures of Morsy.

State broadcaster Nile TV, citing a security source, said live ammunition was not used against demonstrators and no one had been hurt or killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters.

In Haram, a neighborhood of Giza in greater Cairo, one person was killed and seven were injured when a group of armed men attacked a police station, a spokesman for the health ministry said.

At least 10 people were injured in clashes between supporters of Morsy and residents in the city of Damanhour, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Cairo, Egyptian state broadcaster Nile TV said Friday.

Outside Cairo University, throngs of pro-Morsy demonstrators formed human chains as others participating in a sit-in shouted, "Police are thugs!"

One officer told CNN that all troops had been pulled from streets leading to the sit-in so as not to provoke demonstrators and to avoid clashes. None of the army troops seen there in the past two days were present.

Demonstrators said they were angry they were not getting coverage from local TV, especially after the Islamist channels were closed.

In Cairo, BBC Middle East Correspondent Jeremy Bowen said on his Twitter account that he had suffered a head injury from shotgun pellets, but was "fine and heading out."

At nearby Tahrir Square, which earlier this week had been a focal point for demonstrators seeking to remove Morsy from power, supporters of the new government held their own demonstration in reduced numbers.

African Union suspends Egypt

The demonstrations occurred as the African Union announced Friday that it has suspended Egypt from its ranks of member countries.

The AU's Peace and Security Council also said it was sending a team of "high-level personalities" to Egypt to work toward restoring constitutional order.

"The removal of President Mohamed Morsy was in violation of the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution and falls under the AU doctrine on unconstitutional changes of government," the chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said in a statement released Thursday.

Citing those changes, the Muslim Brotherhood had urged Morsy supporters to take to the streets nationwide.

Groups threatened retaliation

He and a number of leaders of the Brotherhood remained under arrest and may face charges over the deaths of protesters during clashes with Morsy's supporters, many of whom also died.

Islamist fringe groups have threatened armed retaliation for Morsy's overthrow. Police arrested four armed men Friday who allegedly planned a reprisal terrorist attack, state-run news service Al-Ahram reported.

The consolidation of power continued Friday, as Interim President Adly Mansour issued a decree dissolving Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, and appointing a new head of intelligence, Egyptian state TV said Friday.

Egypt's armed forces said they would guarantee the rights of protesters, including those who support Morsy, as long the protests resulted in neither violence nor destruction of property.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also said it would protect all groups from revenge attacks.

Egyptian values "do not allow for gloating," it said.

But more than 100 people were wounded Thursday and at least two people, both of them children, were killed in clashes across the country, state media reported.

The anti-Morsy National Salvation Front called on demonstrators to take to the squares "to protect the gains of the second wave of the January 25 Revolution."

Shutting Morsy out

The military has worked to shut out the Muslim Brotherhood.

The public prosecutor's office issued arrest warrants for the Brotherhood's leader, Mohamed Badei, for "incitement to murder" and its former head, Mohamed Mahdi Akef.

State media reported they had been arrested, but the Brotherhood has called this a "false rumor."

Police were seeking 300 more of its members, state media reported.

A spokesman for Morsy's Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood's political wing, said Thursday that what started as a military coup had turned into "very, very questionable attempts by the military to dismantle the Brotherhood."

In an interview in Cairo, Gehad El-Haddad added, "This is a military coup that's establishing an oppressive new regime under the whitewashed face of the old regime."

Morsy's shortcomings

That "old regime" was a reference to Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades until he was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011.

Morsy's government was voted into power in 2012, but his approval ratings plummeted as he failed to improve the economy or cut crime.

Egyptians calling for the return of law and order via military rule joined forces with democracy advocates, and a protest movement was born.

Democracy activists said they wanted Morsy removed over his human rights record.

Human Rights Watch has said he had continued abusive practices established by the former dictatorship. Military courts continued trying civilians; police abuses were allowed.

"Numerous journalists, political activists, and others were prosecuted on charges of 'insulting' officials or institutions and 'spreading false information,'" the rights group said.

Throngs of angry protesters filled Egyptian streets for days, calling for him to step down.

The president's supporters turned out en masse at counter demonstrations. At times, the two sides clashed with deadly consequences.

Morsy was initially placed under house arrest at the presidential Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, then was moved to the defense ministry, the Muslim Brotherhood said. The military has not commented on his whereabouts.

Don't say 'coup'

On Monday, the army gave Morsy 48 hours to comply with an ultimatum: share power or be pushed aside.

On Wednesday, the military toppled Morsy and announced its "road map" to stability and new elections.

A day later, Egypt swore in Mansour, head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court, as interim president.

The democratic Tamarod movement, which had sought Morsy's ouster, has nominated Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, to become prime minister.

ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described Morsy's ouster as a "correction of the uprising of 2011."

Other opposition leaders and protesters have objected to the use of "coup" to describe the military's removal of the elected president via non-democratic means.

President Barack Obama said the United States was "deeply concerned" about the move, but did not use the word "coup."

Washington has supplied Egypt's military with tens of billions of dollars in support and equipment for more than 30 years. Under U.S. law, that support could be cut off after a coup.

More violence

On Friday, Islamist gunmen attacked Egyptian police stations and checkpoints in the Sinai, killing at least one soldier, news agencies reported.

The assaults may have nothing to do with extremist threats to avenge Morsy's overthrow.

The desert peninsula next to Israel and Gaza has long eluded the control of Egyptian security forces, leaving extremists affiliated with al Qaeda plenty of room to establish themselves.

Chronic violence troubled the Sinai years before it did the rest of Egypt.

The army said it was on high alert, a level below maximum alert, in the Sinai and Suez provinces.

Egypt content from around the Web

Wendell Steavenson writes about the scale of the Cairo protests and their consequences for the New Yorker.

Under the headline "Egypt's Tragedy," London-based news magazine The Economist says Morsy was incompetent but his removal by the military is a cause for regret:

The Jerusalem Post's diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon writes that the unpredictability of the Arab Spring has been problematic for Israel, which has "no interest in its largest neighbor becoming a failed state."

In its editorial, the Sydney Morning Herald says the Egyptian army's "decision to intervene one year after the election was premature" and creates "the impression that mobs can bring down the government."

In a blog carried by The Guardian newspaper, Nafeez Ahmed blames declining oil revenue, an overdependence on food imports, ongoing unemployment and a growing population for the unrest in Egypt.