CAIRO — Egypt plunged further into civil conflict Friday after anti-government demonstrations led by the Muslim Brotherhood erupted in violence involving the security forces, protesters and armed civilians on both sides of the political divide.
Gunfire crackled in the capital, armored vehicles sped through the streets, civilians carrying pistols and machetes set up checkpoints, and smoke billowed through the sky as what was billed by the Brotherhood as a Day of Rage turned into a frightening glimpse of what might lie ahead for the deeply polarized country.
Adding to concerns about a spiral into chaos was the absence of calls for restraint or calm from any of the parties to the conflict. Both the Brotherhood and the military-backed government seemed to be digging in for a long fight, with little sign that either was prepared to compromise.
The Muslim Brotherhood claimed that 213 people were killed on a day that brought the violence to the heart of the capital and drew in for the first time government-approved Popular Committees, whose members set up checkpoints carrying sticks, machetes and, in some instances, guns. The government declined to issue casualty figures.