Beginning of civil war in Egypt is hrs or days away. It’s going to be a bloodbath in this country.
World Bulletin/News Desk
Accoridng to the lastest numbers, 200 people were killed and 4,500 injured on Saturday when security forces opened fire on a protest by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo.
“They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill," Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said. “The bullet wounds are in the head and chest."
The Health Ministry, meanwhile, increased its recognized death toll from 21 to 46 people, while claiming that 649 people were wounded.
The violence erupted on the fringes of a round-the-clock vigil being staged by backers of Morsi, who was ousted from power earlier this month by Egypt’s military following mass protests against his first year in office.
Al Jazeera’s Egypt television station showed medics desperately trying to revive casualties arriving at a field hospital at the Brotherhood sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya, a mosque in northeast Cairo.
El-Haddad said police started firing repeated rounds of tear-gas at protesters on a road close to the mosque sometime after 3.00 am (0100 GMT). Shortly afterwards, live rounds started flying, hitting people at close range.
The bloodshed came the day after supporters and opponents of Morsi staged mass rival rallies across the country, bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets and laying bare deep divisions within the Arab world’s most populous country.
Spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed al-Baltaji called for aid for the injured people, and said, “We are expecting aid from everybody. The International Red Crescent should immediately take action to save the lives of hundreds of people wounded by real bullets."
Sahra Hospital officials also told AA that number of wounded people exceeded thousands and at least 300 of them were shot by real bullets in the head or chest.
Well over 200 people have died in violence since the overthrow of Morsi, most of them Brotherhoodsupporters.
There was no immediate word from the security forces about what they thought had happened at Rabaa early Saturday.
The Brotherhood is bracing for a broad crackdown by the army to wipe out a movement that emerged from decades of persecution during Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak, only to be deposed after a year in government.
“They are constantly killing us, but we will on no account kill,” said Muslim Brotherhood representative Dr. Ashraf Abdulgaffar.
When being overthrown by the military, President Morsi had likewise urged, “resist the coup without resorting to violence.”
The investigation into Morsi centres on accusations that he conspired with Hamas to escape from jail during the 2011 uprising, killing some prisoners and officers, kidnapping soldiers and torching buildings.
Morsi has said local people helped him escape during the upheavals, and the Muslim Brotherhooddenounced the accusations levelled against him. Hamas challenged investigators to find “one piece of evidence" that it had meddled in Egyptian affairs.
“At the end of the day, we know all of these charges are nothing more than the fantasy of a few army generals and a military dictatorship," Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said. “We are continuing our protests on the streets."
Witnesses say Egyptian police opened fire on pro-Morsi protesters
Witnesses who were wounded in clashes at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, the site of pro-Morsi demonstrations, told reporters that police used live fire against protesters late Friday, while interior ministry official denied the claim, saying security forces only used tear gas.
Ahmed Mohamed Ali (25) said he came from Mansoura city in order to attend the demonstrations at the square and at 11.00 pm around Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, policemen threw tear gas canisters on the protesters and Baltaji, former pro-Mubarak thugs, assaulted protesters with shotguns.
Ali said police drove their armored vehicles towards protesters, adding that sharpshooters on rooftops simultaneously opened fire on them. “
“There was a big chaos. We knew the demonstrations were to be suppressed and we were determined not to step back."
Another witness Ahmad al-Sayyed (22) said he was attacked by Baltaji the police, and that he suffered a gunshot wound at the 6th of October Bridge.
“They have poured live ammunition on us and burned down protesters’ vehicles."
A high level state official from Egyptian Interior Ministry rejected reports of using live fire on pro-Morsi protesters.
Speaking to the official news agency MENA, the official said security forces had fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse Morsi supporters, who responded by throwing stones at the troops and erecting barriers to prevent police armored vehicles from advancing.
Witnesses said police first fired rounds of teargas at Brotherhood protesters gathered on a boulevard leading away from the Rabaa mosque, with live shots ringing out soon afterwards.
“There were snipers on the rooftops, I could hear the bullets whizzing past me," said Ahmed el Nashar, 34, a business consultant, choking back his tears.
“Man, people were just dropping."
Dr. Ibtisam Zein, overseeing the Brotherhood morgue, said most of the dead were hit in the head, some between the eyes.
The bodies were wrapped in white sheets and laid on the floor, their names scrawled on the shrouds. A cleaner busily mopped the floor, washing away pools of blood.
Haddad said the Brotherhood remained committed to pursuing peaceful protests, despite Saturday’s deaths – the second mass shooting of its supporters this month by security forces, who killed 53 people on July 8.
Egypt’s army salutes Tahrir protesters
An Egyptian army spokesperson published a brief statement on his official Facebook page, posting a “thank you" message to the Egyptian people, in the first reactions to mass protests on Friday in response to a call by army chief and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
“To the great Egyptian people: salute and thank you from your armed forces," read the brief statement.
It was accompanied by a picture of al-Sisi giving the military salute while looking at a picture of the iconic Tahrir Square filled with protesters.
Not covered by media
There was little mention of the violence on Egypt’s two state television channels, which broadcast weather reports and a talk show on Saturday morning. All three state newspapers headlined their morning editions with Friday’s rallies, saying Egyptians had given Sisi the support he had asked for.
“The people give the army and the police a mandate to confront terrorism," said a strap headline on the bottom of a broadcast on the state’s Nile TV.
Morsi supporters besieged again in Alexandria
Opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi are, for the second time Friday, besieging his supporters inside the Qaid Ibrahim Mosque in the coastal city of Alexandria.
The Muslim Brotherhood earlier said that it had ended a siege on its members inside the mosque.
“Groups of thugs – under the protection of security forces – besiege the mosque, where scores of anti-coup demonstrators had taken refuge, but Brotherhood members succeeded in ending the siege," MB spokesperson Anas al-Qadi told the Anadolu Agency.