x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Cairo protests rage for fifth day, killing at least one person

A man is shot dead on the edge of Tahrir Square, where police and demonstrators are squaring off. The incident comes hours after Mohammed Morsi declares a state of emergency in three Suez Canal provinces.

A protester opposing the Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi tries to stop police from firing tear gas along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo, on Sunday. Mr Morsi declared a state of emergency last night for three Suez Canal provinces. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters
A protester opposing the Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi tries to stop police from firing tear gas along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo, on Sunday. Mr Morsi declared a state of emergency last night for three Suez Canal provinces. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

CAIRO // A bystander was shot dead today in Cairo where clashes between police and protesters extended to a fifth day, a security source in the interior ministry said.

The 46-year-old man was not taking part in the protest but was hit by a gunshot early in the day on the edge of Tahrir Square, the source said.

It was not clear who fired the shot.

Police have been firing volleys of teargas against protesters throwing stones in streets around the square.

Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi, declared a state of emergency and curfew in three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a weekend wave of unrest that left more than 50 dead, using tactics of the ousted regime to get a grip on discontent over his Islamist policies and the slow pace of change.

Angry and almost screaming, Mohammed Morsi vowed in a televised address last night that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country. But at the same time, he sought to reassure Egyptians that his latest moves would not plunge the country back into authoritarianism.

"There is no going back on freedom, democracy and the supremacy of the law," he said.

The worst violence this weekend was in Port Said, where seven people were killed on Sunday, pushing the toll for two days of clashes to at least 44. The unrest was sparked on Saturday by a court conviction and death sentence for 21 defendants involved in a mass football riot in the city's main stadium on February 1, 2012 that left 74 dead.

Most of those sentenced to death were football fans from Port Said, deepening a sense of persecution that Port Said's residents have felt since the stadium disaster, the worst football violence ever in Egypt.

At least another 11 died on Friday elsewhere in the country during rallies marking the second anniversary of the anti-Mubarak uprising. Protesters used the occasion to renounce Mr Morsi and the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which emerged as the country's most dominant political force after Mr Mubarak's ouster.

The curfew and state of emergency, both in force for 30 days, affect the provinces of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez. The curfew takes effect today from 9pm to 6am every day.

Mr Morsi, in office since June, also invited the nation's political forces to a dialogue starting today to resolve the country's latest crisis. A statement issued later by his office said that among those invited were the country's top reform leader, the Nobel peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, the former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist politician who finished third in last year's presidential race.

The three are leaders of the National Salvation Front, an umbrella for the main opposition parties.

Khaled Dawoud, the Front's spokesman, said Mr Morsi's invitation was meaningless unless he clearly states what is on the agenda. That, he added, must include amending a disputed constitution hurriedly drafted by the president's Islamist allies and rejected by the opposition.

He also faulted the president for not acknowledging his political responsibility for the latest bout of political violence.

"It is all too little too late," he said.