Two killed in Cairo clashes after Friday prayers: interior ministry

CAIRO Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:04pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Two Egyptians were killed after Friday prayers between Islamist protesters and residents of a Cairo neighborhood, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Police arrested 33 people in five provinces where skirmishes broke out between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Mursi and locals who support Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who ousted him, it said.

Firearms and birdshot were used in Friday's clashes in the Marg area of northeast Cairo, the ministry's statement said, without specifying whether the dead were protesters.

Demonstrations against Mursi's ouster are much smaller than last summer when security forces dispersed two Cairo sit-ins, killing hundreds. Before Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist group in December, protests after Friday prayers were often larger and frequently ended in clashes and deaths.

Since last July, a widespread security crackdown has driven Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood underground with thousands of Brotherhood members arrested and hundreds killed.

Sisi was elected president last month in a landslide victory, but low turnout may deprive him of the strong mandate he needs to fix an economy hit hard by political turmoil since a 2011 revolt that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

He took office less than two weeks ago to a cool reception from Western governments concerned by the crackdown on dissent.

The Brotherhood says it only engages in peaceful protests.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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