Three dead in Egypt clashes

Cairo - At least three people were killed in Egypt on Thursday as police quashed attempts by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi to commemorate the first anniversary of a brutal Cairo crackdown.

On 14 August 2013, after then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had removed Egypt's first freely elected president, the security forces set upon thousands of Morsi supporters at protest camps in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, leaving hundreds of people dead.

The assault was "one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history", the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released ahead of Thursday's anniversary.

In Rabaa al-Adawiya alone at least 817 people were killed, HRW said, calling for top officials to be investigated for likely "crimes against humanity".

Official estimates say more than 700 people were killed at the two squares on that day.

On Thursday, attempts by Morsi supporters to demonstrate were swiftly suppressed, reflecting their dwindling ability to stage protests amid violent repression that has left more than 1 400 people dead since Morsi's overthrow in July 2013.

The pro-Morsi Anti-Coup Alliance had called for nationwide rallies on Thursday under the slogan "We Demand Retribution".

One person was killed in a confrontation between police and Islamist protesters in west Cairo, a security official said.

Police fired tear gas during clashes with pro-Morsi demonstrators in three neighbourhoods in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in the town of Kerdasa, southwest of Cairo.

Similar trouble was reported in north Cairo and in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya.

At least 12 people were wounded and 19 arrested, security officials said.

Security forces were deployed around Cairo's main squares including Tahrir, Rabaa, Nahda and Giza to thwart any attempts by pro-Morsi groups to hold rallies.

Premeditated massacre

Qatar-based cleric Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, who was born in Egypt and is seen as a spiritual guide by supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, called for the prosecution of the "leaders of the military coup" for the "premeditated massacre" of the 2013 protesters.

Qaradawi is himself wanted in Egypt and faces trial in absentia as part of the crackdown on Morsi's supporters.

The cleric has lived in exile for decades but returned briefly to his homeland after the overthrow of long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.

Gas-rich Qatar has also given refuge to a number of Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt after Morsi's overthrow and has faced persistent criticism from the new authorities in Cairo.

Sisi deposed Morsi after millions of people took to the streets demanding the Islamist's resignation just one year into his term of office.

They accused him of monopolising power and ruining an already dilapidated economy.

Sisi replaced Morsi as president after securing a landslide victory in May this year in an election in which he faced a single challenger and the main opposition groups called a boycott.

In a separate incident on Thursday, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a policeman in Cairo. The motive for his killing was unclear.