Anti-coup protesters in Egypt broke a military curfew to march through Cairo but were prevented from reaching their planned destination due to heavy security and reports of hostile locals.
Protesters took to the streets on Saturday evening in response to calls by opponents of the interim, militay-backed government, including the Muslim Brotherhood, following days of violence in which hundreds were killed.
Marchers broke the 5pm GMT military curfew while attempting to converge on the Supreme Constitutional Court complex in Cairo from areas including Helwan, Giza and Doqqi. However, Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from outside the central court complex, said that it was surrounded by soldiers, barbed wire and military vehicles.
A heavy military presence was deployed in other areas to check the marchers’ progress. They also faced the task of passing through several neighbourhoods that were hostile to their presence, Tadros said.
“People are also gathered, local residents, and they are quite hostile,” she said, adding that she had seen at least one checkpoint to search anyone coming into the area.
Another planned march to Roxi Square in Heliopolis was earlier cancelled due to security fears amid reports that army snipers had been placed on buildings along the planned route.
Elsewhere, marchers broke the curfew in Egypt’s second city, Alexandria.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s interim cabinet held a closed meeting to discuss the crisis in the country. Adly Mansour, the interim president, has put forward a proposal to legally dissolve the Brotherhood.
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International criticism of bloodshed in recent days has mounted, with Germany and Qatar jointly condemning the “brutal violence” and Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, urging “maximum restraint” at what he termed a dangerous moment for Egypt.
Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, rejected the criticism, saying on Egyptian TV that measures had to be taken to “confront terror against the people”,
But Brotherhood supporters remain defiant and are calling for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled in a military-backed coup in early July.
Anti-coup protesters have been met with a brutal security crackdown, leading to the death of hundreds.
The government said 79 people had been killed and 549 wounded in violence on Saturday. Police ended a siege of hundreds of anti-coup protesters in a Cairo mosque that evening, although the numbers killed in that operation were not confirmed.
The government said violence on Friday left at least 173 people dead, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria. Among those killed on Friday was a son of Mohamed Badie, the supreme guide of the Brotherhood.
The Interior Ministry said it had arrested 1,004 Brotherhood “elements” during the unrest, and on Saturday security sources said the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s chief, had been detained.