Some 40 arrested, 115 injured after Egypt clashes

Egyptian police have made almost 40 arrests after clashes between Islamists and their opponents across several governorates, which have left 115 people injured, as both sides exchanged gunfire.

Over 100 of the injuries occurred in Cairo after violence flared up near a Muslim Brotherhood protest.

A further six people were injured after clashes in Alexandria and another four were injured in Daqahleya, Egypt’s Daily News reported.

The clashes erupted after opposition activists confronted Islamists who were holding a rally outside the Supreme Court to demand judges, they say are opposed to Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, be sacked.

Last month a court overturned a decree by Morsi to sack prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud, who had been appointed by Egypt’s former President Mubarak, and replace him with Talaat Abdallah.

A court also overturned Morsi’s demand for parliamentary polls this month. They ruled that the president had passed a new electoral law without consulting the constitutional court first. Morsi accepted the court’s ruling.

The violence erupted around Tahir Square, the epicenter of mass protests in early 2011 which toppled the long serving president Hosni Mubarak. Opposition activists fired bird shot at Islamists and riot police. Riot police from the Central Security Forces intervened, firing tear gas at protesters.

Anti-government protesters throw stones at Muslim Brotherhood members during clashes near Cairo's Tahrir Square April 19, 2013.(Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

An amateur video on Youtube also showed Islamists firing what appeared to be homemade guns, according to AFP.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused masked Black Bloc members of attacking and setting on fire one of its buses. Black Bloc is a term used when protesters use black clothing, such as scarves and ski masks, to conceal their identity.

“Those who masterminded attacks against peaceful demonstrators today are people who are afraid of their legitimate demands. The Egyptian people know well who calls for violence and who calls for achieving the goals and demands of the revolution. All attempts to drag us into violence will not succeed,” a Muslim Brotherhood media spokesman said on the group’s website.

A senior member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mohamed Al-Beltagy, described the clashes as “contrived” and initiated by “paid thugs”.

Egypt has been plagued by political instability and violence since Morsi took office in June last year. There have been deadly clashes between protesters and police, sectarian violence, a revolt in the cities on the Suez Canal and a devastating economic crisis. Some fear that Egypt is teetering on the brink of chaos.