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Egypt rocked by more deadly violence


Cairo, Aug 16 (EFE).- Deadly nationwide clashes involving supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohammed Morsi erupted again on Friday in Egypt, where "day of rage" protests by Islamists fueled fears that the country could be lurching toward civil war.

The casualty count varied widely depending on the source, with the Health Ministry confirming only 17 people dead and 82 wounded across the country's 27 provinces, while the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood said more than 100 people died in Cairo alone.

Thousands of Brotherhood members defied a state of emergency and gathered near the Al-Fath mosque in the capital district of Ramses. They were met by a heavy security deployment and the presence on the streets of members of anti-Morsi vigilante groups armed with sticks and knives.

The most serious clashes in Cairo occurred in that part of the city, where gunfire rang out and the Brotherhood said more than 60 people were killed.

Security forces, meanwhile, said an attack by demonstrators on a police station in the capital left 15 dead.

The army stepped up its presence in the vicinity of Cairo's Tahrir Square, where armored vehicles were deployed, as well as in other conflict-ridden areas of the capital and the nation's provinces.

In both the capital and the provinces, demonstrators attacked police stations, Christian churches and provincial government offices and used burning tires to block roads as part of the "day of rage."

Deadly clashes also occurred in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, where at least 16 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded.

More than 200 people also were arrested throughout the day.

The Egyptian government, which claimed in a statement that it was confronting a "terrorist plot" by the Muslim Brotherhood, appealed for national unity and urged citizens to reject efforts to incite divisions among them.

The Brotherhood withdrew their supporters from the streets at the end of Friday, but it warned that daily protests would be held for a week.

The country has been locked in a spiral of bloodshed since Wednesday, when police violently dismantled two sit-in protests by Morsi's Islamist supporters in Cairo.

At least 578 people were killed and 4,200 were wounded in deadly clashes that day, according to Egyptian authorities, although Islamists say the death toll was much higher.

Morsi's supporters have held protests in Cairo since his ouster by the armed forces in a July 3 coup, which followed days of massive anti-government protests.

Critics accused Morsi and the Brotherhood of doing little to address poverty and Egypt's struggling economy, of failing to advance the goals of the 2011 revolution that forced out strongman Hosni Mubarak and of seeking to monopolize power.