Tanks on the streets of Cairo after seven people die in violent clashes over Morsi’s bid for absolute power
Seven killed and hundreds injured as rival supporters clash outside palaceMilitary move in but vow not to oppress demonstrators
Bloodiest battle since last year's uprising that brought down Hosni MubarakOpponents of President Morsi say his rule is 'no different'

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UPDATED:

17:20 GMT, 6 December 2012

The Egyptian army was today patrolling the streets of Cairo after deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the country's Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi.

Seven people have been killed and almost 500 injured as the tension which has building since the President assumed near total powers over the country threatens to erupt.

Supporters of Mr Morsi attacked his opponents who had gathered to protest outside the presidential palace overnight.

Moving in: An Egyptian Army tank deploys near the presidential palace to secure the site after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Mors

Moving in: An Egyptian Army tank deploys near the presidential palace to secure the site after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi

Peaceful: Egyptian Army generals have promised that they have moved in to keep the peace between rival groups who have clashed outside the presidential palace

Peaceful: Egyptian Army generals have promised that they have moved in to keep the peace between rival groups who have clashed outside the presidential palace

Making a grab for power: An Egyptian army tank is seen behind barbed wire securing the perimeter of the presidential palace in Cairo

Making a grab for power: An Egyptian army tank is seen behind barbed wire securing the perimeter of the presidential palace in Cairo

Firebombs and stones were thrown in the bloodiest outbreak since last year's uprising that toppled authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Armoured troop carriers have deployed
and soldiers unfurled barbed wire to protect the palace and help police
pacify what has become a chaotic battleground.

With at least seven tanks at the
palace corners, backed by about 10 armoured troop carriers and 20 police
trucks, the two sides mostly shouted slogans at each other from a
distance.

But the commander of the Republican
Guard
said his intention was to separate the opposing sides, not to repress them.

'The armed forces, and at the
forefront of them the Republican Guard, will not be used as a tool to
oppress the demonstrators,' General Mohamed Zaki told the state news
agency.

President Morsi, who has been silent during the turbulence
of the last few days, will address the nation later today, according to an adviser.

The military played a crucial role in ending Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule by taking over from him to manage a transitional period, but it has stayed out of the latest crisis until now.


Crisis: Tension has been building ever since President Morsi passed measures giving him almost total control over Egypt on November 22

Crisis: Tension has been building ever since President Morsi passed measures giving him almost total control over Egypt on November 22

Deadly: Seven people have died and hundreds more have been injured amid violent clashes in Cairo

Deadly: Seven people have died and hundreds more have been injured amid violent clashes in Cairo

Faith and force: Army soldiers install barbed wire, as supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi pray in the background

Faith and force: Army soldiers install barbed wire, as supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi pray in the background

It is the first time rival groups have fought openly in the streets after thousands of Mr Morsi's Islamist supporters descended on an area near the presidential palace where 300 opponents were staging a sit-in.

State television quoted the health ministry as saying five people were killed and 446 were injured as mobs battled outside the presidential complex in the Heliopolis district of the capital.

The fighting erupted late yesterday when members of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood chased the protesters away from their base outside the palace's main gate and tore down their tents.

After a brief lull, hundreds of opponents arrived and began throwing firebombs at the president's backers, who responded with rocks.

Tanks: The Egyptian Army has moved in but promised not to repress demonstrators on either side

Tanks: The Egyptian Army has moved in but promised not to repress demonstrators on either side

Appeal for unity: The United States and Britain have called for restraint and an 'inclusive' political process

Appeal for unity: The United States and Britain have called for restraint and an 'inclusive' political process

The crowds swelled and the clashes continued well after nightfall, spreading from the immediate vicinity of the palace to residential streets nearby.

Hundreds of riot police could not stop the fighting as officers fired tear gas in a bid to disperse Mr Morsi's opponents.

Violence: A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chants slogans during clashes with opponents outside the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday

Violence: A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chants slogans during clashes with opponents outside the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday

Battle: Supporters of President Morsi attack an opponent during the confrontation outside the palace

Battle: Supporters of President Morsi attack an opponent during the confrontation outside the palace

Volunteers ferried the wounded on motorcycles to waiting ambulances, which rushed them to hospitals.

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Explosive: Last night's clashes were the bloodiest since last year's uprising which toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak

Explosive: Last night's clashes were the bloodiest since last year's uprising which toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak

'No different': Opponents of President Morsi say his rule as leader of the Muslim Brotherhood will be 'no different' from Hosni Mubarak

'No different': Opponents of President Morsi say his rule as leader of the Muslim Brotherhood will be 'no different' from Hosni Mubarak

Mr Saleh, a former MP, played a key role in drafting the disputed constitution.

Compounding Morsi's woes, four of his advisers resigned yesterday, joining two other members of his 17-member advisory panel who have abandoned him since the crisis began.

The opposition is demanding he rescind the decrees giving him nearly unrestricted powers and shelve the controversial draft constitution, which the president's Islamist allies rushed through last week in an all-night session shown live on state TV.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition reform advocate, said late yesterday that Mr Morsi's rule was 'no different' to Mubarak's.

'In fact, it is perhaps even worse,' the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told a news conference after he accused the president's supporters of a 'vicious and deliberate' attack on peaceful demonstrators outside the palace.

'Cancel the constitutional declarations, postpone the referendum, stop the bloodshed, and enter a direct dialogue with the national forces,' he wrote on his Twitter account, addressing Mr Morsi.

The Supreme Guide of Egypt's Muslim
Brotherhood, to which Mr Morsi belonged before he was narrowly elected
president in June, has appealed for unity.

Divisions among Egyptians 'only
serve the nation's enemies', Mohamed Badie said in a statement.

Opposition activist Hamdi Ghassan said protesters would arrive from other parts
of Cairo later in the day, accusing Mr Morsi's supporters of bringing in
people from the countryside to boost their presence.

Mr Morsi's opponents accuse him of
seeking to create a new 'dictatorship' with his November 22 decree.

The president has defended the move
as necessary to prevent courts still full of judges appointed by
Mubarak from derailing a constitution vital for Egypt's political
transition.

Around the palace, traffic was moving
through streets strewn with rocks thrown during violence in which
petrol bombs and guns were also used. Hundreds of Morsi supporters were
still in the area, many wrapped in blankets and some reading the Koran.

Tension: Supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood party throw stones at opposition protesters

Tension: Supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood party throw stones at opposition protesters

Protest: Opponents of president Morsi chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans

Protest: Opponents of president Morsi chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans

'We came here to support President
Mursi and his decisions. He is the elected president of Egypt,' said
demonstrator Emad Abou Salem, 40. 'He has legitimacy and nobody else
does.'

Mr Morsi's opponents say the Muslim
Brotherhood, the group that propelled the president to power in a June
election, is behind the violence. The Brotherhood says the opposition is
to blame and that six of the dead were Mr Morsi supporters.

WESTERN CONCERN

The United States, worried about the
stability of an Arab state which has a peace deal with Israel and which
receives $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid, urged dialogue. Britain also
called for restraint and an 'inclusive' political process.

Egyptian Vice President Mahmoud Mekky proposed 'personal ideas' for a negotiated way out yesterday, saying
amendments to disputed articles in the constitution could be agreed with
the opposition. A written agreement could then go to parliament, to be
elected after this month's referendum on the constitution.

But the opposition stuck by its demand for Mr Morsi to cancel
the November 22 decree and postpone the referendum before any dialogue.

Protests spread to other cities, and offices of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party in Ismailia and Suez were torched.

But Mr Mursi has shown no sign of
buckling under pressure from protesters, confident that the Islamists,
who have dominated both elections since Mubarak was overthrown, can win
the referendum and the parliamentary election to follow.

As well as relying on his Brotherhood
power base, Mr Morsi may also draw on a popular yearning for stability and
economic revival after almost two years of political turmoil.

Opposition coordinator Mohamed
ElBaradei said yesterday the street action and the polarisation of
society were pushing Egypt into violence and 'could draw us to something
worse'.

The Egyptian pound plunged 4 per cent today to its lowest level in eight years, after previously firming
on hopes that a $4.8 billion IMF loan would stabilise the economy. The
Egyptian stock market fell 4.4 per cent after it opened.