CAIRO -- Police officers battled protesters in the streets of several Egyptian cities during what Muslim Brotherhood supporters called the “Friday of igniting revolution,” with the Health Ministry reporting at least 13 people dead and 57 injured.
Security forces recently started a nationwide crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood marches when authorities declared the organization a terrorist organization after a series of bombings last month.
The Brotherhood is pressing for the restoration of President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military in July and now faces trials on several charges, including espionage, aiding terrorism and inciting the killings of protesters during his yearlong rule.
On Friday, police fired tear gas at several thousand protesters in a number of districts in Cairo. Demonstrators responded by hurling stones and fireworks, and one police vehicle was set ablaze, the state news agency MENA reported.
A number of protesters were killed by gunfire, MENA said. Security was tight at Tahrir and Rabaa al Adawiya squares, sites of previous major rallies, to prevent people from gathering there.
Brotherhood sources put the death toll from Friday’s clashes at 17. The Interior Ministry said that 122 Brotherhood members had been detained in protests, which also took place in the cities of Alexandria, Fayoum, Minya and Ismailia.
Authorities said many of those injured were police officers.
Friday’s protests came a day after the Interior Ministry aired what it claimed was evidence linking the Brotherhood to Al Qaeda-inspired militants believed responsible for a bombing last month at a security directorate in the city of Mansoura.
The Brotherhood has often denied any ties to terrorism carried out by other Islamist groups, whose attacks have been largely responsible for the deaths of about 350 police and soldiers in bombings and shootings since Morsi's ouster.
During a news conference Thursday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim released what he said was a recording of the son of a Brotherhood lawmaker confessing to being a member of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, which claimed responsibility for last month's suicide bombing in Mansoura.
“The Ansar Bayt al Maqdis carried out the security directorate operation, where an improvised explosive device that was made by a guy called Sheik Omar was used,” a man identified as Yahia Mongi says on the recording, purportedly made during an interrogation by security officials.
Mongi's father, Mongi Saad Hussein, denied the minister’s claim, telling Al Jazeera: “Neither me nor my sons are members of the Brotherhood nor have we any ties whatsoever to the group or any other group.”
“These accusations are incorrect and the Interior Minister has no real evidence to prove his claims,” he added.
Hassan is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times