The streets of the capital of Cairo were the scene of deadly clashes Monday night shortly after a U.S. diplomat hailed Egyptian democracy’s second chance, following the ouster of President Mahomed Morsi earlier this month.
William Burns the Deputy Secretary of State for the U.S. was the highest-level official U.S. visit to Cairo since the ouster of Morsi on July 3, by the country’s military. It signaled the readiness of the U.S. to stand with the new leaders of Egypt.
Just hours later, tens of thousands of supporters for the former president closed roads and major highways in and out of Cairo as well as in the city of Alexandria along the coast.
To clear the roads, police launched canister after canister of tear gas. By early Tuesday morning, authorities said seven people had been killed in the overnight rioting and over 260 injured.
In the center of the capital, at Ramses Square, a battle zone was established as clashes started between police and Morsi’s supporters.
Many Morsi supporters had to take shelter inside a local mosque as fighting continued. The protesters stayed within the mosque into Tuesday afternoon, but said they were planning to leave.
Earlier this month millions of people in Egypt protested in the streets calling for the ouster of Morsi, which prompted a coup on July 3 ending the one-year Presidential reign of Morsi, the country’s first president elected democratically.
During his visit Monday, Burns appeared to underscore an apparent shift by the White House administration over the last two weeks, from not supporting the ouster of a president elected democratically to throwing their weight behind those that backed the coup.