December 28, 2013 - 11:14 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - With water cannons and tear gas, Egyptian riot police battled on Friday, Dec 27 with hundreds of rock-throwing supporters of ousted ex-President Mohammed Morsi in clashes across the country that left five dead, according to officials, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities meanwhile unveiled a new tactic to contain protests called by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies, calling on large families to post armed men near the likely sites of demonstrations.
Friday is the day of the week in Egypt in which protests are typically at their largest. The day's demonstrations follow an announcement by the authorities that they will use Brotherhood's new designation as a terrorist organization to levy harsh prison sentence on protesters, and poses the first test of whether that will deter them.
In at least seven southern provinces, security and local officials said that the authorities turned to armed civilians from anti-Islamist and pro-government families to provide support to security forces, help guard police stations and churches and confront pro-Morsi rallies.
In at least two incidents on Friday in the southern provinces of Assiut and Qena, witnesses said, two small rallies quickly dispersed after pro-government civilians mounting pickup trucks fired their machine guns, into the air driving protesters away.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
In Cairo, riot police chased rock-throwing and Molotov-hurling student protesters chanting against the military and the police at the Islamic Al-Azhar University. In a second district of Alf Maskan, an Associated Press cameraman saw Islamist protesters hurling Molotov cocktails and fireworks at security forces while civilians, on the police side, hurled stones. The street was littered with rocks, shattered glass and black soot.
In a statement, Egypt's Interior Ministry said a total of three people were killed. Three police vehicles sat on fire and 265 protesters including women arrested, it said. Two security officials in southern city of Minya and Aswan said that two pro-Morsi supporters killed in the clashes, bringing total number of deaths to five.