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Protester dies as rioters storm HQ

Supporters and opponents of Egypt's president have grown more entrenched in their potentially destabilising battle over the Islamist leader's move to assume near-absolute power.

Neither side appearing willing to back down as the stock market plunged amid the fresh turmoil.

The stand-off poses one of the hardest tests for the nation's liberal and secular opposition since Hosni Mubarak's was deposed nearly two years ago. Failure to sustain protests and eventually force Mohammed Morsi to loosen control could consign it to long-term irrelevance.

Clashes between the two sides spilled on to the streets for a third day since the president issued edicts that make him immune to oversight of any kind, including that of the courts.

A teenager was killed and at least 40 people were wounded when a group of anti-Morsi protesters tried to storm the local offices of the political arm of the president's Muslim Brotherhood in the Nile Delta city of Damanhoor, according to security officials.

It was the first reported death from the street battles that erupted across much of the nation on Friday, the day after Mr Morsi's decrees were announced. Officials identified the boy as 15-year-old Islam Hamdi Abdel-Maqsood.

The tensions also dealt a fresh blow to the economy, which has suffered due to the problems plaguing the Arab world's most populous nation since Mubarak's ouster. Egypt's benchmark EGX30 stock index dropped 9.59 percentage points on Sunday in the first trading session since Mr Morsi issued his decrees.

The losses were among the biggest since the turbulent days and weeks immediately after Mubarak's demise in a popular uprising last year. The loss in the value of shares was estimated at close to £3 billion.

The judiciary, the main target of the edicts, has pushed back, calling the decrees a power grab and an "assault" on the branch's independence. Judges and prosecutors stayed away from many courts in Cairo and other cities today.

But the nation's highest judicial body, the Supreme Judiciary Council, watered down its opposition to the decrees. It told judges and prosecutors to return to work and announced that its members would meet Mr Morsi to try to persuade him to restrict immunity to major state decisions like declaring war or martial law or breaking diplomatic relations with foreign nations.


From Belfast Telegraph