Violence between Egyptian Islamists and police resulted in at least 40 deaths and 200 people wounded in this capital on Sunday in the biggest protests since last August.

Despite the Egyptian regime's repression of Islamists in recent months, the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi tried to regain their stride on a weekend on which the nation commemorated the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war against Israel.

The protesters' challenge to the military government's security measures led to a bloodbath in the streets of Cairo, the worst violence since security forces dislodged the Islamists from their encampment in the capital on Aug. 14.

Thousands of Islamist supporters staged small marches after the midday prayers to show that they still have clout on the street.

Their aim was to proceed to Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, the epicenter of day's the anti-Morsi demonstrations, but the military deployed troops, tanks and armored cars to block the Islamists' access to the square.

Security forces dispersed the protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and gunfire in the neighborhoods of Dokki and Mohandisin, on the west bank of the Nile, and in areas of downtown Cairo such as Ramses Square.

According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, 40 people died in Cairo, three in the city of Beni Suef and one in the town of Delga, and those figures were similar to the ones made public by the Muslim Brotherhood.

A source with the security forces told Efe that in the capital's Ramses district demonstrators burned tires and blocked the main avenue and in Dokki police opened fire with real ammunition after Islamists first took shots at them, although protesters said that police fired on a peaceful crowd.

A total of 423 people were arrested in the capital for carrying out "acts of sabotage" and using firearms, the Interior Ministry reported.

In contrast to the violence between Islamists and security forces, thousands of army supporters gathered on Tahrir Square and in the vicinity of the Itihadiya presidential palace amid a festive atmosphere with fireworks and overflying helicopters displaying the Egyptian flag to commemorate the 1973 Ramadan War, known as the Yom Kippur War in Israel.

Egyptian Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi addressed the nation before the clashes started emphasizing that the Egyptian people support the armed forces in their task of "establishing a democratic state."

Beblawi said that the country has chosen to follow the road of "democracy, justice and peace" and called on all members of the public to return "to the bosom of Egypt without divisions or discord." EFE