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CAIRO – Egyptian military vehicles fired live rounds at supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi near Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday, as thousands of angry protestors marched in cities across the country demanding the end of army-backed rule.
Reuters is reporting that one Muslim Brotherhood supporter was shot dead in the clashes between government forces and pro-Morsi demonstrators, according to a witness. Police and military authorities fired tear gas and blocked off entrances to Tahrir Square and other main streets with tanks and barbed wire, diverting traffic from the central plaza.
Bystanders threw rocks at the protesters, and many demonstrators hurled them back as tempers flared in the streets.
"Down down with the murderer!" protesters chanted, in reference to Defense Minister and Army Chief Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who forced Morsi out of power after millions took to the streets this past summer demanding he step down.
An Associated Press reporter saw protesters pushed away by other Egyptians armed with sticks and bottles who chased them in the streets before the two sides started lobbing rocks just steps from the Egyptian museum, located at one of the main entrances of the square.
Members of the Brotherhood, which has been banned by court order, tried to reach the presidential palace but were turned back by police.
"We will go protest and take all streets possible," said Mohammed Said, 45, during a march from the Dokki neighborhood to Tahrir. "We will get in Tahrir at any price."
Islamist supporters planned the march, in defiance of a security crackdown on demonstrations. Egyptian authorities warned the Brotherhood that new demonstration camps would not be tolerated.
Another rally ended at a Defense Ministry building and a second at Rabaa el-Adawiyah mosque in eastern Cairo. Troops backed with armored vehicles beefed up security in the vicinity of the mosque, where protesters chanted slogans against the military.
By late afternoon, protesters had retreated from the area, Reuters reported.
Clashes have broken out in several other Egyptian cities in addition to Cairo, with police firing tear gas and gunshots in the air. More fighting occurred on a road leading to the pyramids in the suburb of Giza and in Alexandria and two cities in the Nile Delta.
A Health Ministry spokesman, Khaled el-Khateeb, said that eight people were injured nationwide. In the southern province of Assiut, a security official said 44 protesters were arrested in different towns following pro-Morsi demonstrations.
Authorities declared a state of emergency in mid-August after a pro-Morsi protest camp was violently dismantled, and imposed a night curfew in Cairo and several other areas to try to stop the fighting.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group, from which Morsi hails, is escalating protests to coincide with commemorations of Egypt's Oct. 6 opening strike in the 1973 war with Israel.
The Brotherhood won every election after an uprising deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but became unpopular under Morsi's rule. Morsi was accused of abusing his power and entrenching the Brotherhood - allegations he denies.
Since Morsi's ouster, nearly 2,000 Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested, its top leaders referred to courts over charges of inciting murder and violence. Morsi himself has been detained incommunicado.
Earlier in the day, at least two Egyptian soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected militants on an army convoy east of Cairo.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.