Egyptian security forces shoot dead dozens of pro-Mursi supporters

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi run from tear gas fired at them by police during clashes in Nasr city area, east of Cairo. Credit: Reuters
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi run from tear gas fired at them by police during clashes in Nasr city area, east of Cairo.
Credit: Reuters

Egyptian security forces shot dead dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Saturday, witnesses said, days after the army chief called for a popular mandate to wipe out “violence and terrorism”.

Men in helmets and black police fatigues fired on crowds gathered before dawn on the fringes of a round-the-clock sit-in near a mosque in northeast Cairo, Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood said.

“They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill,” said Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad. “The bullet wounds are in the head and chest.”

A Muslim Brotherhood website said 120 people had been killed and some 4,500 injured. A Reuters reporter counted 36 bodies at one morgue, while health officials said there were a further 21 corspes in two nearby hospitals.

Activists rushed blood-spattered casualties into a makeshift hospital, some were carried in on planks or blankets. One ashen teenager was laid out on the floor, a bullet hole in his head.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told reporters only 21 had died and denied police had opened fire, accusing the Brotherhood of exaggerating for political ends.

Ibrahim said local residents living close to the Rabaa al-Adawia mosque vigil had clashed with protesters in the early hours after they had blocked off a major road bridge. He said that police had used teargas to try to break up the fighting.

Well over 200 people have been killed in violence since the army toppled Mursi on July 3, following huge protests against his year in power. The army denies accusations it staged a coup, saying it intervened to prevent national chaos.

The Arab world’s most populous state is battling economic woes and struggling with the transition to democracy two years after Hosni Mubarak was swept from power in the Arab Spring.

SISI

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had poured onto the streets on Friday in response to a call by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for nationwide demonstrations to give him backing to confront the weeks-long wave of violence.

His appeal was seen as a challenge to the Brotherhood, which organized its own rallies on Friday calling for the return of Mursi, who has been held in an undisclosed location since his ousting and faces a raft of charges, including murder.

Brotherhood leaders appealed for calm on Saturday, but activists at the Rabaa al-Adawia mosque vigil voiced fury.

“The people want the execution of Sisi,” a cleric shouted to the crowd from a stage by the mosque. “The people want the execution of the butcher.”

Interior Minister Ibrahim said the pro-Mursi sit-ins would “God willing, soon … be dealt with” based on a decision by a public prosecutor, who is reviewing complaints from local residents unhappy with the huge encampment on their doorstep.

The Brotherhood is a highly organized movement with grassroots support throughout Egypt, making it hard to silence even if the army decides to mount a bigger crackdown.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she “deeply deplores” Saturday’s deaths and urged all sides to halt the violence. There was no immediate comment from the United States, which provides Egypt with some $1.5 billion dollars of aid a year, mainly military hardware.

Washington has delayed delivery of four F-16 fighters because of the turmoil, however, officials have indicated they do not intend to cut off aid to a country seen as a vital ally and which has a peace deal with neighboring Israel.

“BULLETS WHIZZING”

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.

Brotherhood activists at Rabaa said they would not be cowed and warned of worse bloodshed if the security forces did not back down. “We will stay here until we die, one by one,” said Ahmed Ali, 24, helping treat casualties at the field hospital.

“We have the examples of Algeria and Syria in our minds. We don’t want it to become a civil war. If we take up arms it might become one. This is a religious belief.”

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.

Ibrahim said Mursi, who has not been seen in public since his removal from power, was likely to be transferred shortly to the same Cairo prison where former leader Mubarak is now held.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…