An anti-government protester chants slogans during a protest in front of the journalists' syndicate in Cairo January 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
CAIRO - At least 17 people were killed on Sunday in Egypt's bloodiest protests since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected president, as security forces fired at protesters marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Gunfire and sirens could be heard in Cairo into the night as armoured personnel carriers moved through the centre of a city where security forces had once again used lethal force against dissenters. A Health Ministry spokesman said at least 17 people had been killed at protests across the country.
Gunmen in a car opened fire on a security checkpoint near the pyramids, killing two policemen, and a bomb wounded two policemen outside a Cairo sports club, security sources said.
During the day, riot police backed by soldiers in armoured vehicles sealed off roads, including those leading to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the 2011 revolt.
The heaviest death toll was in the Cairo suburb of Matariya, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. Special forces fired pistols and rifles at protesters, a Reuters witness said. Eight people, including one policeman, were killed, the Health Ministry said.
People in Matariya chanted "down with military rule" and "a revolution all over again". Some threw Molotov cocktails at security forces and fires raged in the streets.
In downtown Cairo, riot police with rifles and plain clothed men with pistols chased protesters through the streets.
Six people were killed in separate protests in Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city, Giza governorate outside of Cairo and the Nile Delta province of Baheira, security sources said.
Signs of discontent built up as the anniversary of the revolt against Mubarak approached, and a liberal woman activist, Shaimaa Sabbagh, was shot dead at a protest on Saturday.
About 1,000 people marched in her funeral procession on Sunday. The Health Ministry said she had been shot in the face and back and Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said an investigation into her death had begun, adding: "No one is above the law."
"Shaima was killed in cold blood," Medhat al-Zahid, vice president of the Socialist Popular Alliance party that Sabbagh belonged to, told a news conference.
Police keep guard in a vehicle as others disperse an anti-government demonstration in Mataryya area, east of Cairo January 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Egypt marks January 25 as a national day as Mubarak was ousted on that day four years ago. The state was supposed to hold official celebration on Sunday but mourning the death of late Saudi King Abdullah led the country to cancel the event.
Mostly, Egyptians are divided over January 25 uprising, as some refer it as a popular revolt for change and democracy while others consider it a conspiracy to destabilize Egypt.
The 2011 popular uprising toppled Mubarak and brought the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi to office in 2012, but the former Islamist president was ousted by the military in July 2013 after mass protests against his one-year rule.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led Morsi's removal as military chief then, made a statement on Saturday and referred to the anniversary of January 25 uprising as "a new torch for hope, progress and action."
Meanwhile, security sources told government-run Ahram newspaper' s website that police forces contained most of the protests across Egypt, adding that security forces arrested 130 members of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group nationwide during Sunday's protests.
The sources said the detainees, some armed with guns, participated in violent clashes against police forces and vandalism acts against government buildings and public property.
Although the police announced it defused a number of terrorist bombs, a number of explosions took place since Sunday morning, causing no casualties.
Egypt has experienced months of terrorist acts and violent protests since the army toppled Morsi in July, 2013.
Violence by Morsi's supporters has claimed the lives of hundreds of security forces members.
An anti-government shouts slogans against the military and interior ministry during a protest in front of the journalists' syndicate in Cairo January 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Anti-government protesters help an injured protester when pro-government protesters threw stones during a protest in front of the press syndicate in Cairo January 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]