CAIRO (AP) – Egypt stumbled deeper into turmoil after a national holiday celebrating the military turned to mayhem, leaving 51 dead across the country and exposing the deep divisions plaguing the nation.
The high death toll in Sunday’s clashes between security forces and Islamist protesters came as crowds from Egypt’s two rival camps _ supporters of the ousted Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, and backers of the military that deposed him _ poured into the streets and turned on each other.
Several neighborhoods of the capital, Cairo, resembled combat zones after street battles that raged for hours.
Morsi’s supporters fired birdshot and threw firebombs at police who responded with gunshots and tear gas. Streets were left strewn with debris, and the air was thick with tear gas and smoke from burning fires, as the crack of gunfire rang out.
An Associated Press photographer saw nine bodies lying on the floor of a clinic in the Cairo district of Dokki, scene of some of the heaviest clashes. Most of the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head or chest.
It was the highest death toll in a single day in violence in Egypt since Aug. 14, when security forces raided two sit-in protest camps by Morsi’s supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds.
Even as fighting continued in the streets, the military went ahead with lavish celebrations for the holiday marking the 40th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Mideast war with Israel.