Egyptian President's supporters clash with rioters in Cairo

Clashes pitted Egyptian against Egyptian and were the most serious since Morsi's election

Cairo

A street war was erupting close to the presidential palace in Cairo tonight as the first major clashes broke out between Mohamed Morsi's supporters and opponents outraged over his recent power grab.

In what could herald a dangerous breach within Egyptian society, several thousand protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs at one and other in the side streets close to the palace.

The east Cairo district of Heliopolis – normally a placid middle-class neighbourhood – was echoing to the sound of exploding fireworks and ambulance sirens tonight.

Smashed masonry and broken glass littered the avenues, while protesters ripped down steel building site barriers to erect makeshift barricades. At one point a fire engine was forced to speedily reverse away from the rioting after being attacked by anti-Morsi protesters.

"There is war in Egypt now," said Ahmad Khatab, a 27-year-old anti-Morsi protester.

Nobel laureate Mohamed el-Baradei, a leading opposition figure and former presidential contender, accused the President's supporters of a "vicious and deliberate" attack against peaceful demonstrators.

"This, in my view, is the end of any legitimacy this regime has," he said. "A regime that is not able to protect its people and is siding with his own thugs is a regime that lost its legitimacy and is leading Egypt into violence."

The battle lines were drawn earlier in the day when thousands of Morsi supporters arrived in Heliopolis to turf out the opposition activists who had conducted a sit-in the previous night.

After being forced away from the palace – the building used by Mohamed Morsi to conduct his official duties – the opposition protesters regrouped and returned en masse a few hours later.

By that time several thousand of the president's supporters – many of them, though by no means all of them, Islamists – had surrounded Mr Morsi's headquarters. When the two groups met, fighting erupted.

In a worrying sign of what could lie ahead, the clashes essentially pitted Egyptian against Egyptian in the most serious disturbances of their kind in the capital since Mr Morsi was elected.

A referendum on Egypt's new constitution is due on 15 December 15. The document has been a bone of contention for Mr Morsi's enemies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?