Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Egypt protests: Bloodshed as Pro-Morsi camps cleared

One local resident says there is "complete terror" on the streets of Cairo

Witnesses said they saw at least 40 bodies, but the Muslim Brotherhood says hundreds died.
Egyptian security forces have moved in to clear two protest camps occupied by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, with reports of many killed.
State TV showed armoured bulldozers moving deep into the main camp outside the eastern Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.
There were also reports of violence in other parts of Egypt.
  • State news agency Mena says three churches were attacked in central Egypt, one in the city of Sohag with a large number of Coptic Christian residents
  • Security sources quoted by Reuters news agency reported clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters in Assiut and Minya cities
  • Morsi supporters are reported to have blocked roads in the northern city of Alexandria
  • Hundreds are said to have gathered outside the governor's office in Aswan in the south
Authorities say the other Cairo protest camp at Nahda Square has now been cleared.
The interior ministry said a mopping up operation in the streets surrounding Nahda Square was under way. Pro-Morsi activists were chased into the nearby zoo and Cairo University, Nile TV said.

At the scene

Shortly before seven in the morning, from a street corner near the Rabaa mosque encampment, I watched the raid begin.
An armoured military bulldozer drove down towards the barricades on the edges of the encampment. The bulldozer pushed its way through rows of bricks and sandbags. Pro-Morsi protesters responded by throwing stones and burning tyres.
At the same time, riot police in armoured personnel carriers advanced through nearby streets. For more than two hours I heard the crack of live ammunition. The sharp bangs were accompanied by the deeper thud of tear gas explosions.
For a while, it was hard to breathe without a gas mask. Some local residents held handkerchiefs to their faces - and watched the police deployment from their balconies.
It is still unclear how many casualties were caught up in the two Cairo operations. Figures differ widely and have been impossible to verify independently.
Western journalists said they saw at least 40 bodies in a makeshift morgue at the protest site at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.
Ikhwanonline, the website of the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports the protests, says more than 800 were killed. But the health ministry says seven people died and 67 were injured.
At least two members of the security forces were among the dead and nine were injured, according to officials.
The interior ministry denied any deaths were caused by its forces firing live ammunition.
"Security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts," the ministry said in a statement.
The government has meanwhile congratulated the security forces on their operation to clear the camps.
In a televised statement, a government spokesman praised their "self-restraint" and spoke of the "smaller number" of injuries among protesters.
The government would decisively confront attempts to attack state buildings and police stations, he said.

Protesters hold the face of a young man apparently affected by tear gas in Cairo clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi on 14 Aug 2013.Protesters help a young man apparently suffering from tear gas exposure
Supporters of Mr Morsi have been occupying Nahda Square and the Rabaa al-Adawiya site since he was ousted on 3 July. They want him reinstated.
Large plumes of smoke rose over parts of the city as the operation to clear the camps began, with tear gas canisters fired and helicopters hovering above.

Muslim Brotherhood TV called for people to send cars to the sit-ins to take casualties to hospital.
Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been arrested, private Egyptian TV reports.
"We arrested a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, but it is too soon to announce their names," interior ministry spokesman Abdel Fattah Uthman told CBC TV.
The protesters had been expecting the clearance operation, says BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.
It is a heavy-handed operation and is a consequence of the current "winner takes all" climate, he adds, with both sides sticking to their positions and pushing as hard as they can.
More than 250 people have been killed in clashes with the security forces in the six weeks since Mr Morsi's overthrow.
Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the sit-ins could not continue "endlessly".
He said the authorities had been trying to seek an agreement through dialogue.
"If the police force take their procedures, they will do that in accordance with the law by court order and in accordance to the basic norms on which these things are done."