A burned army vehicle remains on a side street outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi had a protest camp at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with hundreds of people reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president. Wednesday's raids touched off day-lo
CAIRO - The death toll in Friday's clashes across Egypt has risen to 173, an Egyptian government spokesman said Saturday as authorities considered disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood group and witnesses reported gunfire at a Cairo mosque.
Egyptian government spokesman Sherif Shawki said Saturday that Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi assigned the Ministry of Social Solidarity to study the legal possibilities of dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was founded in 1928. Shawki didn't elaborate on the comments.
Witnesses said Egyptian security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who barricaded themselves overnight inside the al-Fatah mosque at Ramses Square, the scene of some of the heaviest clashes Friday. The mosque has been serving as a field hospital and morgue since Friday's violence.
Egypt's official news agency, MENA, reported that gunmen opened fire on security forces from the mosque's minaret. Local television stations broadcast live footage of soldiers firing assault rifles at the minaret.
The day after marches in Cairo devolved into the fiercest street battles that the capital has seen in more than two years, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters were defying a state of emergency with new protests. Shawki said Saturday that 1,330 people were injured in the fighting Friday.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials say they have arrested the brother of al-Qaeda's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, NBC News and the Associated Press reported. Mohammed al-Zawahri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group who was allied with Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the AP reported.
On Friday evening, an eerie calm had fallen over the city after a day marked by violent clashes. Near the site of one set of clashes that erupted earlier in the day, plainclothes and uniformed police patrolled the streets along with other packs of security forces positioned across the capital. They stopped and questioned every passing vehicle, which were few and far between.
"It's not safe here," a plainclothes policeman warned, not giving his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Earlier Friday, protesters poured out of mosques after traditional midday prayers in response to the Brotherhood's call for a "Friday of Anger" against Morsi's July ouster and the deadly violence during a police operation to evict Morsi supporters from protest camps. As the dust from Friday's violence cleared, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a week of additional protests.
Scenes of chaos tore through the capital as sounds of gunfire crackled through the air, while protesters vowed to keep up their demonstrations against Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who led the July 3 overthrow of former president Morsi.
At least 638 were killed nationwide Wednesday including 43 police, Egypt's Health Ministry said. Most died in violence at two main protest sites positioned on opposite sides of the capital. With bulldozers, tear gas and live ammunition, security forces tore through the sit-ins, where protesters gathered for six weeks demanding Morsi's reinstatement.
The government defended its position, saying it gave protesters a chance to leave and was "keen to adopt a gradual plan to avoid bloodshed and falling of victims."
Contributing: The Associated Press; Gary Strauss in McLean, Va.