Supporters and opponents of Morsi clash in Al
Supporters and opponents of Morsi clash in Al AFP photo

Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattahal al-Sisi has urged supporters to hold nationwide demonstrations on Friday, to grant him the mandate to confront "terrorism" in the country. Egypt has seen steadily increasing levels of violence following to ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi by the secular military leadership.

"Next Friday, all honourable Egyptians must take to the street to give me a mandate and command to end terrorism and violence," he declared wednesday, at a military graduation ceremony , according to Al Arabiya.

Denying accusation that he had "betrayed" Morsi, he emphasised that he was not calling for violence, and urged voiced his support for efforts at "national reconciliation." 

Escalating attacks

Meanwhile, the death toll continued to rise in clashes between Islamist and secularist demonstrators.

At least one person was killed and dozens of others wounded in a bombing overnight at security headquarters in northern Egypt, in the city of Mansoura near a police station.

Officials suspect the attack was carried out by Muslim extremists, who have stepped up a campaign against Egyptian security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

Nevertheless, Morsi’s own Muslim Brotherhood party also condemned the bombing and vowed to hold peaceful protests, maintaining it would not be dragged into violence.

 At least 13 police officers were wounded in the explosion, which occurred after midnight in the Nile Delta city. 

The evenings are a time the streets are crowded with restaurant-goers and worshippers in the mosques during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the daylight hours.

At least eleven people have died since Monday, as clashes escalate between supporters and opponents of the former president.  In the three weeks since Morsi was ousted from office – about three weeks ago – some 100 people have died in the clashes.

The increasing violence is being carefully monitored by Israel as well as nearby Arab nations, who are becoming concerned that another "Arab Spring" might be in the offing. The clashes between Morsi opponents and supporters have increased the already-lawless atmosphere in the Sinai Peninsula to rise to a level of danger not seen for decades, leading Israel's government to issue a high-level alert to citizens, warning them not to travel to Red Sea resorts for any reason.

The Egyptian Army cited a petition demanding Morsi’s resignation, signed by 22 million Egyptian citizens that was submitted on the first anniversary of his election, as reason for his removal.

Nevertheless, the army is continuing to hold Egypt’s first democratically elected leader without filing charges, and without allowing any contact by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – against the Geneva Conventions – nor any contact with his family members.