Egyptian military vehicles block a road leading to the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo as Egyptian police try to disperse supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi on August 14, 2013. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said at least 250 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in a police crackdown on two major protest camps held by supporters of Morsi. AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES / KHALED DESOUKI
CAIRO - The death toll in Friday's clashes across Egypt has risen to 173, an Egyptian government spokesman said Saturday as authorities considered disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood group and witnesses reported gunfire at a Cairo mosque.
Egyptian government spokesman Sherif Shawki said Saturday that Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi assigned Ministry of Social Solidarity to study the legal possibilities of dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was founded in 1928. Shawki didn't elaborate on the comments.
Witnesses said Egyptian security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who barricaded themselves overnight inside the al-Fatah mosque at Ramses Square, the scene of some of the heaviest clashes Friday. The mosque has been serving as a field hospital and morgue following Friday's violence.
Egypt's official news agency MENA reported that gunmen opened fire on security forces from the mosque's minaret. Local television stations broadcast live footage of soldiers firing assault rifles at the minaret.
The day after marches in Cairo devolved into the fiercest street battles that the capital has seen in more than two years, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters were defying a state of emergency with new protests. Shawki said Saturday that 1,330 people were injured in the fighting Friday.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials say they have arrested the brother of al-Qaeda's top leader Ayman al-Zawahri, NBC News and the Associated Press reported. Mohammed al-Zawahri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group who was allied with Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the AP reported.