Thousands of pro and anti-Morsi forces clash outside the presidential palace as opposition says leader's legitimacy is in jeopardy and two aides resign to protest Brotherhood's 'narrow-mindedness'
21:15 Salafist preacher and Morsi supporter Yasser Borhami tells Al-Jazeera satellite television channel that the ongoing violence does not serve the country, and adds that what is happening today started yesterday when protesters besieged the palace saying words that were insulting to the president, and then stormed the palace.
“If you are capable of using violence there will be others who are capable of responding with violence,” he said.
“If you say that the constitution is not consensual then say your comment and we will listen."
"I was in contact with members of the non-Islamist camp and I told them that we have to protect the presidency,” he added.
21:10 Citizen journalist Mohamed Mansour from the northern Egyptian governorate of Damietta, who posts on Twitter as @mansourtalk, says on his account: “Damietta now catches up with Cairo.”
He reports that crowds are currently outside the National Security Directorate in Damietta city, and have blockaded the main road with burning tires, chanting against Morsi.
21:08 The Ministry of Health says the injury toll has risen to 63, with no deaths reported so far.
21:05 Al-Ahram Arabic news website reports that three men were detained and handed over to security authorities in Zagazig city in the Sharqiya governorate for setting fire to the local Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, as well as two cars parked outside the building.
20:55 Ahram Online reporter Ahmed Feteha describes the scene at the presidential palace:
"Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters are standing right before the palace, and there are two rows of Central Security Forces in front of them.”
"The anti-Morsi protesters, also in the hundreds, are facing the opposite direction. No violence currently as both sides keep chanting. 'The people endorse the president's decision,' is repeated by the Brotherhood's supporters, while protesters on the other side chant 'The people want the fall of the regime,' among other slogans.
Clashes in the surrounding areas have been back and forth.
20:50 Mazhar Shaheen, the famous imam of Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir Square, who was dubbed the “Tahrir Preacher” after the January 25 revolution, tells Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the current crisis is heading towards a “civil war.”
“Shame on all of us for contributing to the collapse of the homeland,” he commented.
Shaheen also said that all factions of the political elite are responsible for the current crisis, and urged dialogue between them.
20:43 Political activist Ahmed Douma, who was detained during the 2011 Cabinet clashes, is pictured on Facebook with a bloodied knife wound to his face.##
20:40 Bedaya news website claims that its reporter, Osama El-Shazly, has been wounded by birdshot pellets shot by the Morsi supporters’ side.
20:35 Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website and Twitter account, states:
“Mubarak regime loyalists and remnants are arming thugs to attack protesters, spread violence and chaos, Egyptian people won't allow this to happen.”
20:30 The Ministry of Health says there have been no reports of deaths so far as a result of the ongoing clashes at the presidential palace in Cairo, according to the state-run news agency MENA. The ministry also announced that the injury toll has reached 13, in addition to five more who were hurt in other confrontations in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
20:20 The Freedom and Justice Party’s official website claims a Muslim Brotherhood member, Mohamed Assem, has just been killed by live ammunition.
20:15 "The president, the presidential office and the group [the Muslim Brotherhood] are fully responsible for the violence before the Ittihadia [palace]. The Brotherhood's way to manage crises: Violence, fascism and failure," political analyst and former MP Amr Hamzawy says on Twitter.
"The legitimacy of the president is not at stake, it's falling now."
20:10 Founding member of the liberal El-Adl Party and former MP Mostafa El-Naggar on his official Twitter account called for the Muslim Brotherhood and the president to “revise their political calculations before its too late,” describing the presidential institution as “shameful.”
“To the president, the presidency and presidential aides, after your shameful performance we do not trust you and we do not trust your management of the country,” he said.
“We carried our coffins facing the old regime and its oppression and we fear nothing but God, and we will not succumb.”
20:00 Veteran anti-Mubarak Judge Zakareya Abdel-Aziz, speaking on Al-Jazeera television channel, comments: “Egypt is passing through a very difficult period.”
The former head of the Judges' Club calls on leading groups to discourage the use of violence by youth, and calls for a consensus-building initiative by Constituent Assembly members and the National Salvation Front to negotiate ways forward.
“The president, however, has to freeze the draft constitution,” he asserts.
19:56 Presidential aide Ayman El-Sayyad announces his resignation as clashes continue near presidential palace.
19:55 Presidential aide Seif Abdel-Fattah has announced his resignation, commenting:
“Egypt is bigger than a narrow-minded elite. Egypt will continue its revolution”.
“We can no longer stay silent because they [the Muslim Brotherhood] have harmed the nation and the revolution and we need to rebuild Egypt...the youth are the ones who took to the front lines to serve the revolution...I pray for mercy for the souls of the martyrs.”
19:52 Ahram Online reporter Ahmed Feteha says that anti-Morsi protesters are adopting a highly offensive stance towards the Brotherhood, having spotted demonstrators destroying a car of a man in Roxy Square near the palace, because he had displayed the logo of the Freedom and Justice Party. They did not assault the man, however.
19:50 Anti-Morsi protesters repeatedly chant “Jika”, the name of the protester killed during clashes with police near Tahrir Square two weeks earlier, considering him to be the first to have been killed at the hands of security forces since President Mohamed Morsi won the elections.
“The people want the fall of the regime,” is another chant frequently heard.
19:47 As security forces enter the site of clashes outside the presidential palace, crowds are heard chanting, “One hand,” in an attempt to subdue violence.
19:43 The official Freedom and Justice Party website claims that a Muslim Brotherhood supporter has been seriously injured outside the presidential palace as a result of live ammunition.
19:41 "We will not agree to participate in any dialogue until the constitutional declaration is annulled," ElBaradei says at the ongoing press conference.
19:40 Head of the Democratic Front Party Osama El-Ghazali Harb, speaking at the National Salvation Front press conference, denounces the "Islamist militias" for attacking peaceful protesters.
19:35 Mohamed Sultan, head of Egypt’s Ambulance Authority, said that 11 people have been injured so far in the clashes which erupted in front of the presidential palace.##
19:34 Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website and Twitter account, comments: “We hold opposition figures, namely Sabbahi and ElBaradei, fully responsible for escalation of violence and inciting supporters.”
19:32 Amr Moussa, speaking at the National Salvation Front press conference, says: “We are ready for real dialogue to sort out this situation.”
19:31 Ahram Online reporter at the scene, Osman El-Sharnoubi, says that a big anti-Morsi march has just arrived on the other side of the presidential palace.
19:30 The Sabbahi Campaign Twitter account says member of the Egyptian Popular Alliance Mirna Emad has been killed during the ongoing clashes. The April 6 Youth Movement coordinator and member of the Constitution Party Diaa Samir was shot in the eye by birdshot pellets although this is yet to be confirmed.
19:29 Hamdeen Sabbahi, at the National Salvation Front press conference, says that the president, who the people elected, is quickly losing his legitimacy.
19:25 According to Ahram Online reporter Ahmed Feteha, who is at the scene, Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked anti-Morsi protesters in the vicinity of the presidential palace, firing birdshot pellets. Petrol bombs are also being thrown by both sides.
"The Brotherhood supporters outnumber their opponents," Feteha comments.
19:20 Mohamed ElBaradei at a National Salvation Front press conference that is underway commented: "The current regime is as oppressive as the former regime...our movement is peaceful and will carry on."
19:15 According to ONTV satellite channel the Ministry of Interior has announced that Central Security Forces are trying to create a buffer-zone between presidential supporters and opponents clashing around the presidential palace.
19:06 President Mohamed Morsi is reported to have left the presidential palace as clashes turn violent between supporters and opponents of the president. Supporters chant, “Freedom, justice, Morsi’s men stand behind him.”
19:00 Molotov cocktail bombs fly around the presidential palace, fireworks lit up the sky and gunshots were heard as clashes flurred up minutes before 7pm at the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday between supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and his opponents, who had been holding a protest sit-in at the site since Tuesday night.
Clashes broke out at the presidential palace in Heliopolis, Cairo, between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi at around 4pm.
According to media reports, there was no security presence at the palace when the clashes began.
The Muslim Brotherhood claimed there have been calls by the opposition to attack and break into Egypt's presidential palace, amid the tense, ongoing protests against President Mohamed Morsi.
"Such calls waste the legitimacy and ignore the existence of the state president, who was elected by the people," reads a statement of the Islamic group, from which Morsi hails, on its official site.
An Ahram Online reporter at the scene, Osman El-Sharnoubi, confirmed that clashes have continued between Morsi supporters and anti-Morsi protesters in several side streets by the presidential palace.
Shortly before 6pm, Central Security Forces appeared on the scene for the first time since the clashes began and have acted to stand as a barrier between the warring sides.
Eyewitnesses told Ahram Online that several thousand pro-Morsi supporters arrived at the presidential palace minutes before 4pm where they attacked dozens of activists who had been holding a peaceful sit-in since Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, a leading Muslim Brotherhood member told Ahram Online that the group planned to hold a pro-Moris demonstration in front of the presidential palace. Asked whether such a step might not result in clashes between Brotherhood members and the opposition protesters sitting in at the site, he replied, "let what may happen, happen."
Activist Aida El-Kashef told Ahram Online that demonstrators staging the sit-in had created a buffer-zone to avoid clashes with approaching rival Morsi loyalists. The peace was not maintained for long, however, as a throng made up of hundreds of Morsi supporters approached and attacked the tents of anti-Morsi activists.
El-Sharnoubi reports that pro-Morsi protesters hauled the remains of the tents they had destroyed away from the site of the palace, shouting, "We're cleansing the palace."
Activist Nawara Negm reported that she had been attacked together with activist Rasha Azab by supporters of the president.
In response, Mohamed ElBaradei condemned the violence on Twitter, saying, "Vicious attack vs peaceful protesters in front of presidential palace without police protection. Regime leading Egypt into violence & bloodshed."
Meanwhile, the numbers of pro-Morsi supporters have been increasing outside the palace. A small truck accompanied the pro-Morsi demonstrators, mounted on which were loud-speakers calling on people to vote for the new constitution and carrying a banner reading "Yes to the constitution."
"The people support the president's decisions" and "Long live President Morsi; the martyrs' blood was not shed in vain," the pro-Morsi loyalists chanted.
A few opposition protesters could still be seen standing nearby, although clashes appear to have subsided. The atmosphere, however, remains tense with limited scuffles breaking out intermittently.
Ambulances have arrived at the scene in anticipation of possible injuries.
Pro-Morsi supporters could be seen wiping anti-Morsi graffiti off the palace's walls.
On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of protesters marched on the presidential palace to denounce Morsi's constitutional declaration and what they felt was an "authoritarian" draft constitution.
The Brotherhood has released a joint statement with nine other Islamist groups accusing anti-Morsi protesters of carrying out acts of vandalism.