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Egyptian official: Death toll latest clashes between Islamists, security forces rises to 17

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    Heavy smoke billows the air due to clashes between supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and security forces in Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. The confrontations spilled from main streets to side streets in heavily populated residential areas in several provinces including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria. Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters hurled rocks at security forces, which responded with volleys of tear gas. (AP Photo/Heba Khamis) (The Associated Press)

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    Egyptian plainclothes policemen arrest a supporter of Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi during clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. The confrontations spilled from main streets to side streets in heavily populated residential areas in several provinces including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria. Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters hurled rocks at security forces, which responded with volleys of tear gas. (AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El Latif, El Shorouk newspaper) EGYPT OUT (The Associated Press)

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    Egyptian plainclothes policemen arrest a female supporter of Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi during clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. The confrontations spilled from main streets to side streets in heavily populated residential areas in several provinces including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria. Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters hurled rocks at security forces, which responded with volleys of tear gas. Arabic reads, "Sissi is a killer." (AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El Latif, El Shorouk newspaper) EGYPT OUT (The Associated Press)

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    A military soldier walks through heavy smoke from clashes with supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. The confrontations spilled from main streets to side streets in heavily populated residential areas in several provinces including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria. Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters hurled rocks at security forces, which responded with volleys of tear gas. (AP Photo/Heba Khamis) (The Associated Press)

An Egyptian security official says the death toll from clashes between Islamist protesters and security forces the day before has risen to 17.

The official reported the new toll on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

Friday's protests gripped Cairo and other heavily populated cities and provinces such as Alexandria, Ismailia, Fayoum and Minya.

They were the most violent in months, coming less than two weeks ahead of a key referendum on an amended constitution.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group, and its supporters have called for a boycott of the vote. They have staged near-daily protests since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in a popularly-backed coup in July.