Carnage In Egypt: Morsi Supporters Defiant
15 August, 2013
Egypt may be heading for another showdown between the military led Egyptian government security forces and the supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Morsi supporters reiterated that they are committed to peaceful struggle one day after hundreds of their supporters were killed in a bloody crackdown. "Marches are planned this afternoon from al-Iman mosque to protest the deaths," a coalition of Morsi's supporters said in a statement on Thursday, referring to a mosque in Cairo's Nasr City neighbourhood.
An uneasy calm prevalied in Cairo this morning following yesterday's deadly-attack on Morsi supporters that led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians including four journalists. Scores of churches, schools, shops and houses were set on fire. The country-wide violence found scores of police stations under attack. The army crack down left at least 281 dead including four journalists and 43 police officers and 1,400 injured on August 14. The death toll may rise.
Muslim Brotherhood put the death toll as more than 2,000, which could not be verified. In another statement, the Muslim Brotherhood said the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in field hospital alone recorded 2,200 deaths and over 10,000 injuries. However, Mohamed El-Beltagi, senior Brotherhood figure, announced that there were at least 300 dead in Rabaa.
More than 500 persons have been detained.
A state of emergency was declared and curfews imposed on 12 out of 27 governorates after violence spread to different parts of the country.
On August 14, security forces stormed the sit-ins in Nahda Square and near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the Islamists’ 6-week long two camps set up in Cairo. Many journalists reported that both the police and the Islamist protesters had used live ammunition against each other.
All train services to and from Cairo were stopped.
Major roads leading into Cairo were closed off, some by police forces and some by the military.
Journalists encountered difficulties when they tried to cover the violence.
Leading Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagi has confirmed reports that his 17-year-old daughter, Asmaa El-Beltagi, was killed during clashes at Rabaa.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim accused the Islamists of firing at police. He said: Police forces "were surprised by protesters who started firing live ammunition". Ibrahim said scores of weapons including grenades, guns and bullet-proof vests were confiscated during the dispersal.
In the wake of the outbreak of violence in Cairo, bloody clashes erupted all over Egypt including Alexandria, Beheira, Beni Suef, Ismailia, Suez, Fayoum, Assuit, Minya, and Aswan as the angry Islamists took to the streets and attacked government buildings, courts, 21 police stations, dozens of Christian properties including churches, schools, houses and shops.
The Coptic Orthodox Church condemned the continued attacks.
In Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood activists tried to set up new sit-in camps, clashed with police as they tried to hold their ground. Gunfire was also reported. They blocked several vital roads in the city including a key route connecting many of the capital city’s major districts.
Protesters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya threw a Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicle off the nearby 6 October Bridge. The vehicle had five police conscripts inside.
State television and private channel ONTV showed pictures of steady stream of Morsi supporters leaving the Rabaa sit-in with their hands in the air.
In Sohag, two were killed and eight injured including three CSF conscripts by live fire from pro-Morsi demonstrators. The main Coptic Orthodox Church in Sohag city was set ablaze by pro-Morsi protesters.
The Morsi supporters set fire to a military building. Clashes went on between supporters of Morsi and security forces.
In Sharqiya, one person was confirmed dead and three injured during an attempt to storm the Abu-Kebir police station.
In Luxor, pro-Morsi supporters torched a hotel and several shops owned by Egyptian Christians. The protesters burned a police car, attacked a policeman stealing his weapon and uniform in addition to attacking a number of shops.
In Beni Suef, Morsi supporters took over a police station seizing weapons. Supporters of Morsi and security forces exchanged gunfire, leaving at least seven confirmed injured.
In Assiut, Morsi supporters torched a court building, throwing Molotov cocktails after they failed to storm the building. A church was also set ablaze in the city.
In Mansoura, residents clashed with Morsi supporters as they attempted to build a wall to block a road.
In Tanta, locals formed a human shield around the Mar Girgis church to protect it after Morsi supporters attacked it with stones.
In Fayoum, the death toll climbed to 17 following clashes at police stations between Morsi supporters and security forces. Morsi supporters attacked two police stations in the city. Pro-Morsi supporters set fire to a Christian youth centre located next to the Muslim youth centre where they had been protesting.
In Kafr El-Sheikh, a 25-year-old pregnant woman from the city of Hamoul was shot dead and 12 others were injured by gunshot wounds during clashes with security.
Clashes in Suez governorate left five people dead and 40 injured.
In Al-Arish, unknown assailants have torched the Mar Girgis church.
In Minya, Morsi supporters torched two more churches. An attack on a police station left eight dead and at least 30 injured.
The Dalga church in Deir Mawat came under attack.
In Alexandria, protesters set fire to a government building and clashed with security forces at El-Raml train station. Several public buses were set on fire by protesters.
Pro-Morsi supporters also attacked four police stations in the governorate of Giza.
In Aswan, three people were confirmed dead and 22 injured after clashes between protesters and security forces. Morsi supporters torched 5 CSF vehicles and took guns and teargas canisters from inside the trucks.
Violence continued in the cities on the Suez Canal.
Pro-Morsi supporters threw Molotov cocktails at the Al-Raey Al-Saleh Church and set three military vehicles on fire. Clashes went on between protesters and military forces.
In Ismailiya, a military officer and a conscript were shot dead by unknown assailants. Two other officers were injured. Pro-Morsi protesters threw Molotov cocktails at court buildings.
In Wadi El-Gedid, pro-Morsi supporters headed to the local post office to close it down and attack security forces there. Locals in the area stopped the attack and the protesters headed on to the governorate building.
Later, the armed forces backing the police actions in a statement vowed to act with "utmost firmness" against anyone violating the curfew.
The interior ministry had monitored "orders" by Brotherhood leaders to the group's members to "attack police stations.”
Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian condemned the police attacks, saying pro-Morsi demonstrators will remain defiant.
"Hundreds of martyrs will fall and our determination will never be broken... So we shall live freely in a free country," he said.
Several political forces also condemned the bloodshed.
The Salafist Nour Party said the sit-ins' dispersal will further "complicate" the political situation.
The April 6 Youth Movement blamed “the army, interior ministry and the Muslim Brotherhood” for the bloodshed.
The youth movement, which backed Morsi for president before breaking with him later over his "betrayal of the goals of January 25 revolution," charged on its Facebook page that the interior ministry does not mind if people die so long as it “consolidates its control,” and that the Brotherhood also do not care about lives but only about “reclaiming power.”
Islamist politician Selim El-Awa has urged army chief El-Sisi to order police to stop killing pro-Morsi protesters and to immediately start dialogue with the pro-Morsi camp.
He described the attack on pro-Morsi vigils by police as an “inhumane crime by legal and constitutional standards around the world” and said “If the situation remains the same, by tonight either legitimacy or the regime will fall forever.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Prime Minister David Cameron, The German foreign minister, the UK foreign minister, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, France, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Turkish president Abdullah Gul and prime minister Erdogan, the Qatar foreign ministry and Iran criticized/regretted/condemned the "deplorable" incidents. The US has strongly opposed the declaration of a state of emergency.
However, in a televised address, Egyptian Interim prime minister Hazem Beblawi defended the operation.
The Strong Egypt Party has said that it holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for the “deaths of the victims”.
Spokesman Ahmed Imam said that the dispersal of the sit-ins is a "crime" that will lead to more violence. The party, which is Islamist-oriented, took part in the 30 June protests against Morsi but rejected his ouster by the military, describing it as a "coup."
Death of journalists
At least four journalists have been confirmed dead in the violent clashes.
The UK's Sky News TV channel confirmed the death of its cameraman Mick Deane in the Cairo as he was covering the dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa.
Mick Deane was part of a Sky News team reporting on the disturbances in the city with Middle East Correspondent Sam Kiley when he was shot and wounded. Despite receiving medical treatment for his injuries, he died shortly afterwards.
Deane, 61, had worked with Sky News as a camera operator for 15 years and was married with two sons.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a statement grieving the death of Sky News’s Deane.
Journalist Ahmed Abdel Gawad, who wrote for the state-run newspaper Al Akhbar, was killed while covering the crackdown at Rabaa. The Egyptian Press Syndicate, a journalist union, confirmed Gawad's death, though it had no other information about how he was killed.
XPRESS Egyptian journalist Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, 26, was shot dead in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square early Wednesday.
She was not on an official assignment, but had gone home on an annual leave. Abd Elaziz’s Facebook account shows she was a Morsi supporter and was in Rabaa as a protester.
Rassd news website (RNN), an alternative pro-Islamist media network, reported that their photojournalist Mosab El-Shami had been shot dead in Cairo.
Reuters reported that their photographer, Asmaa Waguih, was shot in the foot while covering the Rabaa dispersal.
Correspondent for the Daily Beast Mike Giglio was at Rabaa’s front lines when the police briefly arrested him.
“Arrested, beaten by security forces and then held at a local arena,” Giglio said via Twitter.
“Authorities knew full well that I’m a journalist while arresting me today. It actually seemed to get me some extra punches,” Giglio added.
The police took his laptop, opened it on the scene and punched him until he gave them the password, he later wrote. His wallet and mobile were also confiscated and not returned, according to the Daily Beast reporter.
Freelance Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid was detained with him and Giglio believed he has still not been released.
Ahram Online’s reporter Bel Trew described the police and military storming of Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya earlier on Wednesday as complete “chaos” saying via Twitter that she "can't tell where the bullets are coming from,” adding she just keeps “ducking.”
Journalists have been the target of attacks since the January 25 revolution in 2011 under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and under Morsi.
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