(re-ledes with clashes, army response)


The Egyptian army deployed tanks around Cairo's Tahrir Square late Friday after violent clashes between supporters and foes of deposed President Mohammed Morsi left 17 people dead nationwide.

Fighting broke out in Cairo when Morsi partisans tried to reach Tahrir, where thousands of people were gathered to celebrate the military's decision on Wednesday to oust the Islamist president, state news agency Mena said.

When their opponents blocked the way to Tahrir, the Morsi loyalists headed for the October 6th bridge and began firing birdshot at the rival camp.

The violence diminished once the army tanks arrived, as many of the participants began to drift away.

Friday morning brought an appeal from the armed forces for Egyptians to leave aside ideas of revenge in favor of working toward national reconciliation.

In a message posted on the Facebook page of army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, the military warned protesters against sabotage or attacks on property.

The message, however, held out an olive branch to Morsi's core supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, saying the military would not take "any exceptional or arbitrary measures against any political group or movement."

That statement was issued in the wake of the arrest of the Brotherhood's top leader, General Guide Mohammed Badie.

The National Alliance in Support of Electoral Legitimacy, which comprises the Brotherhood and other groups, has called for Morsi - who formally left the MB shortly before assuming the presidency - to be returned to power.

Morsi's Islamist supporters have held protests since Wednesday's coup, when the armed forces suspended the constitution and named Adli Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as interim head of state pending fresh elections.

The military acted following days of massive anti-government protests.

Critics accused Morsi and the Brotherhood of doing little to address poverty and Egypt's struggling economy, of failing to advance the goals of the 2011 revolution that forced out strongman Hosni Mubarak and of seeking to monopolize power. EFE