Protesters step up attacks on Morsi reign

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Opponents of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi hurled petrol bombs at his palace yesterday as protesters returned to the streets of Egypt, demanding his overthrow after the deadliest violence of his seven months in power.

Youths threw petrol bombs and launched fireworks at the presidential compound in Cairo as night fell and thousands of peaceful demonstrators had dispersed. Police fired water cannon and tear gas, while the roof of a building in the compound appeared to catch fire.

The head of the Republican Guard, which protects the palace, condemned the attack and what he described as attempts to climb the compound walls and storm one of its gates. In a statement to the state news agency, he urged the protesters to keep their demonstration peaceful.

Earlier, there were scuffles in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the revolution that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths. However, there were no reports of serious injuries by nightfall.

Protests marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak have killed nearly 60 people since 25 January, prompting the head of the army to warn this week that the state was on the verge of collapse.

Men dressed in mourning black marched through the Suez Canal city of Port Said, scene of the worst bloodshed of the past nine days, chanting and shaking their fists.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of a football stadium riot that killed 70 people last year. Death sentences handed down last week against 21 Port Said men helped fuel the latest violence there, which saw dozens shot dead in clashes with police. Mr Morsi imposed a curfew and emergency rule in Port Said and two other canal cities on Sunday.