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Egypt army chief urges mass rallies against 'terror'

Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday called for mass public rallies that would give him a mandate to fight "terrorism and violence," as ousted president Mohammed Morsi's supporters continued to protest against his removal.

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Egypt’s military chief on Wednesday called on his countrymen to hold mass rallies on Friday calling for an end to “violence” and “terrorism” while voicing their support for the army.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a large turnout would give him a “mandate” and an “order” to do “what is necessary” to combat the bloodshed that has killed dozens since the military removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi three weeks ago.

“Next Friday, all honourable Egyptians must take to the street to give me a mandate and command to end terrorism and violence,” he told a graduation ceremony for a class of military cadets, broadcast on live TV.

“Come out and remind the whole world that you have a will and resolve of your own. Please, shoulder your responsibility with me, your army and the police and show your size and steadfastness in the face of what is going on.”

His speech came hours after a bomb at a police station killed a conscript, according to the interior ministry.

Brotherhood rejects 'threat'

Sisi’s request for a popular mandate comes amid mounting calls on the army and the police to act swiftly to save the country from plunging into civil war.

The coup that ousted Morsi on July 3 followed four days of mass protests by millions of Egyptians demanding that he step down.

The former president was Egypt’s first freely elected leader, but his opponents say he concentrated too much power in his own hands and his Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi’s supporters insist he must be reinstated, saying his removal was a coup against democracy.

Essam El-Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, branded Sisi's appeal a threat, and vowed that it would not halt protests to back the ousted president.

"Your threat will not prevent millions from continuing to gather," he wrote on Facebook.

Overnight, at least two more people died on the streets of Cairo in protests against Morsi's removal from power.

Their deaths followed nine other fatalities in the capital on Tuesday - bloodshed underscoring the depth of the crisis facing Egypt and the interim government.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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