CAIRO — They showed a military-style precision: Crowds of bearded Islamists proclaiming allegiance to Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and chanting “God is great” as they descended on tents set up by anti-Morsi protesters outside the presidential palace, swinging clubs and firing rifles. They set up a detention facility, interrogating and beating captured protesters.
The scene from bloody clashes outside the presidential palace a week ago hangs over Egypt’s political crisis as a daunting sign of how much more violent the confrontation could become between Morsi’s Islamist supporters and the opposition that has launched a giant wave of protests against him.
Ahead of a new mass rallies planned by both sides today, masked gunmen attacked anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square before dawn, firing birdshot at them and wounding nine. It was unclear who was behind the attack, said security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.