Deadly battles and continued violence have killed scores of people and injured many in Egypt overnight, media reports say. According to these reports, more than a hundred people died and more than 1,000 were injured at a protest staged by pro-Morsi supporters in the capital city of Cairo.
Reports say there were pools of blood all over a field hospital where the injured were brought in. Some of the injured had horrific wounds. Some had parts of their heads missing from gunshot fire.
According to initial reports, this latest surge in violence was triggered when pro-Morsi supporters engaged in a sit-in protest at a mosque in the Nasr City area tried to block the main road. Security forces responded and battles raged overnight and into the morning.
Gehad el-Haddad, a Muslim Brotherhood leader told reporters, “They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill.”
Another reporter at the scene said earlier, “There is evidence of live fire, puncture wounds. There is blood all over the place. It’s chaotic. These are rudimentary facilities … no means to deal with bullet wounds.”
In Alexandria, reports say seven people died and hundreds were injured in deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the deposed Morsi. In spite of this violence, tens of thousands of members of Muslim Brotherhood Morsi supporters vowed to continue their sit-in protest at the mosque in the Nasr City area.
“It is either victory over the coup or martyrdom,” Mohamed el-Beltagy, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Morsi supporters.
Ahmed Aref, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, told reporters that it would continue peaceful demonstrations across Egypt, and refuse to participate in negotiations with the interim government unless it steps down from power.
In the meantime, thousands of anti-Morsi Egyptians filled Tahrir Square Friday after Egypt’s army chief, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, called on them to demonstrate. He said their presence on the streets would provide a mandate for the army’s involvement in deposing Morsi. He urged them to show backing for what he called a mandate against “terrorism” by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Morsi.
“The army are here to protect the people, they don’t lie,” Ezzat Fahmi, 38, a demonstrator at Tahrir square told reporters. He said Sisi called on the rallies “to show the entire world that the Egyptian people don’t want the Brotherhood anymore.”
Leaders of Tamarod, a grassroots movement that had started a campaign to remove Morsi from power had endorsed Friday’s protests. It encouraged supporters to help “cleanse Egypt.” But, according to reports, other revolutionary movements rejected Sisi’s call for rallies.
Meanwhile, the interim government warned Muslim Brotherhood supporters and those opposed to the military takeover that they would be removed from the streets “in a legal manner.”
Saad el-Hosseini , a senior Muslim Brotherhood politician, said that this was an attempt by security forces to clear the mosque area.
“I have been trying to make the youth withdraw for five hours. I can’t. They are saying they have paid with their blood and they do not want to retreat,” he said earlier.
Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president was removed from power in what his Muslim Brotherhood supporters call a military coup. He has been formally charged with “premeditated murder of some prisoners, officers and soldiers” when he, along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, broke free during a breakout at a Cairo prison in January 2011. Among other charges, he is also accused of conspiring with Hamas, the Palestinian group, which governs the Gaza Strip and has strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood.
A court order said that Morsi be remanded in custody.
In the meantime, as deadly battles rage and violence continues in Egypt, Morsi remains at an undisclosed location.
By Perviz Walji