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Egypt vows 'full force' against Brotherhood

Security officials said 17 people were killed in nationwide clashes on Friday.

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(Khaled Kamel/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt vowed on Saturday to confront Muslim Brotherhood protests with "full force," as security officials said 17 people had been killed in nationwide clashes the previous day.

The Brotherhood, which demands the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, has organized near-daily protests despite its designation last month as a terrorist organization.

The designation carries harsh prison sentences for members arrested during demonstrations or leaders of the influential Islamist movement.

"The organization continues its criminal activities despite its designation as a terrorist group," the interim government, installed by the military following Morsi's overthrow in July, said in a statement.

The state "will confront the activities of this terrorist group with full force," it said.

Security officials had earlier raised the toll of Friday's clashes between police and Islamist protesters to 17 dead and 62 wounded across the country.

Police also arrested 258 suspected protesters, the officials said.

A Brotherhood-led Islamist coalition had called for a surge in rallies ahead of the second trial hearing of Morsi, who is charged with incitement to kill protesters during his turbulent year in power.

The government says the Islamists intend to disrupt a referendum on Jan. 14 and 15 on a new constitution, the first in a series of polls that it says will restore an elected government by the end of the year.

The Islamists have called for a boycott of the referendum.