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Overnight clashes in Cairo between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Islamist leader killed at least six people.
The street battles outside the presidential palace in the city’s Heliopolis district were the worst violence since Egypt’s latest crisis erupted on Nov. 22, when Morsi assumed near absolute powers.
An early Thursday report by state television quoted the Health Ministry as saying six people were killed and more than 600 people were injured as angry mobs battled each other with firebombs, rocks and sticks outside the presidential complex long into the night.
The deployment of hundreds of riot police did not stop the fighting. The police later fired tear gas to disperse Morsi’s opponents.
Both sides appeared to be digging in for a long struggle, with the opposition vowing more protests later Thursday and rejecting any dialogue unless the charter is rescinded.
The large scale and intensity of the fighting marked a milestone in Egypt’s rift.
The violence spread to other parts of the country on Wednesday. Anti-Morsi protesters stormed and set ablaze the Brotherhood offices in Suez and Ismailia, east of Cairo, and there were clashes in the industrial city of Mahallah and the province of Menoufiyah in the Nile Delta north of the capital.
There were rival demonstrations outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters in the Cairo suburb of Moqatam and in Alexandria, security officials said senior Brotherhood official Sobhi Saleh was hospitalized after being severely beaten by Morsi opponents.
Saleh, a former lawmaker, played a key role in drafting the disputed constitution. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Compounding Morsi’s woes, four of his advisers resigned Wednesday, joining two other members of his 17-member advisory panel who have abandoned him since the crisis began.