Egypt protests: US citizen killed in Alexandria, say officials

An American citizen was killed in clashes in the Egyptian city of Alexandria Friday, according to Egyptian security and medical officials.

Reuters said the man, named by Kenyon College as Andrew Pochter from Chevy Chase, Maryland, died from a stab wound to the chest, citing Gen. Amin Ezzeddin, a senior Alexandria security official.

Pochter, 21, was an intern for AMIDEAST, a US non-profit “engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa,” according to the groups website.

"He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding," A Facebook post apparently from his family said. "As we understand it, he was witnessing the protest as a bystander and was stabbed by a protester." 

Alexandria, and numerous other cities in the Nile Delta, have seen several days of clashes, with at least five killed in the violence between supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the opposition.

Supporters of Morsi were rallying in Cairo on Friday, two days ahead of planned opposition protests.

People started gathering in Tahrir Square and at other locations in different towns to voice their support of Morsi. His legitimacy is at the center of the debate in both the protests for and against him.

Morsi supporters — who have also come out to the streets of Egypt's capital ahead of their scheduled demonstrations — say his authority comes from the first free presidential election in Egypt's history and that he inherited many challenges, including religious tensions and corrupt and inefficient institutions. His critics say he favors Islamists and is a delegate of his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Many feared Friday's protests were a sign of more widespread and violent clashes to come on Sunday, the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration. The opposition said it will bring millions to the streets around Egypt.

"We must be alert lest we slide into a civil war that does not differentiate between supporters and opponents," warned Sheik Hassan al-Shafie, a senior cleric at Al-Azhar, the country's most eminent Muslim religious institution.

Military officials have urged both sides to settle their differences through dialogue instead of violence, while opposition leader Amr Moussa asked Morsi to respect the will of the people.

"He should take the voice of the people seriously and the protests, the angry comments, as an expression, major expression of dissatisfaction," said Moussa. "Please take that seriously and accept the early elections."