14 Aug 2013

Egypt: dozens killed as pro-Morsi protest camps cleared

Egypt declares a month-long state of emergency as violence continues in parts of Cairo after security forces reportedly seize control of two camps filled with pro-President Mohammed Morsi supporters.

The latest figures from Egypt’s state news agency MENA suggests 235 people have been killed across the country with Mohamed Sultan, head of Egypt’s emergency services, saying another 2001 people were wounded in clashes that broke out after security forces broke up two pro-Mursi vigils in Cairo.

A Health Ministry official has confirmed the figure and claimed it included both police and protesters.

The smaller of the two camps was cleared of protesters by late Wednesday morning, with most of them taking refuge in the nearby Orman botanical gardens, inside the sprawling campus of Cairo University and the zoo.

Security forces also stormed the larger camp in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City and were closing in on the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque which has served as the epicenter of the vigil.

Several leaders of President Morsi’s Brotherhood are thought to have been staying inside the mosque.

At least three members of the security forces were confirmed to have died in the crackdown, while the Health Ministry said 149 protesters were killed and over 874 were injured.

“The dead are both from police and civilians. We are waiting to get more details,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Hamdi Abdel Karim.

Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed El Baradei resigned from his post on Wednesday after unrest escalated in Egypt, according to reports.

Mr El Baradei said in a resignation letter that there were peaceful options for ending the political crisis.

Resembling a ‘warzone’

There was no immediate official confirmation of the deaths at Rabaa al-Adawiya, where thousands of supporters of the ousted President had been gathered for six weeks, however pictures posted on social media platforms showed images of over 40 bodies in a field hospital.

On his Twitter feed, Mosa’ab Elshamy described the scene at Rabaa’s frontline as resembling a “warzone”.

Alastair Beach, Cairo correspondent for The Independent newspaper, tweeted: “corridors at Rabaa Mosque hospital filled with dead and dying. As one body is stretchered to morgue, others brought in.”

Read more: actor Khalid Abdalla reacts to the day's events -'I hold both the army and Brotherhood responsible'

Clashes also erupted on a major road in Cairo’s affluent Mohandiseen district when pro-Morsi protesters opened fire on passing cars and pedestrians. Police used tear gas to chase them away.

The pro-Morsi Anti-Coup alliance claimed that security forces used live ammunition, as did some western correspondents on the scene.

“The world cannot sit back and watch while innocent men, women and children are being indiscriminately slaughtered. The world must stand up to the military junta’s crime before it is too late,” said a statement by the Brotherhood’s media office in London.

Army troops did not take part in the two operations, but provided security at the locations. Police and army helicopters hovered over both sites as plumes of smoke rose over the city skyline hours after the police launched the simultaneous actions on Wedneday morning.

The political arm of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood claimed that more than 500 protesters were killed and some 9,000 wounded in the two camps on opposite ends of the city, but there was no official confirmation of the Islamist group’s figures.

Trains in and out of the capital have been stopped, in an apparent attempt by the authorities to prevent further Muslim Brotherhood supporters entering the city.

The Egyptian government on Wednesday imposed a curfew that will last for the next month – or until further notice – in major cities including Cairo and Alexandria.

A government statement said the curfew would run from 7 pm until 6 am local time in 11 of Egypt’s 27 provinces, including Suez.

Violence spreads

In the city of Bani Suef south of Cairo, protesters set three police cars on fire. Farther south in the city of Assiut, a stronghold of Islamists, police used tear gas to disperse thousands of President Morsi supporters gathered in the city center.

Pro-Morsi supporters also attacked at least two police stations in the Egyptian province of Fayoum, setting fire to police vehicles outside one, witnesses said. At least nine people were killed in the attack, a hospital official.

At least five people were killed on Wednesday in the Egyptian city of Suez, a health ministry official said, when supporters of deposed President Morsi tried to storm a government building there.

Witnesses said an armoured vehicle was set on fire during the attempt to storm the provincial governor’s office.

There were also several reports of attacks on Christian churches across the country.

Egypt (W)

The international community condemned the attack on Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Wednesday.

UK Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt tweeted he was “deeply concerned” about the events in Cairo “leading to death and injury”.

Foreign Secretary William Hague added: “I am deeply concerned at the escalating violence and unrest in Egypt, and regret the loss of life on all sides.

“I condemn the use of force in clearing protests and call on the security forces to act with restraint. Leaders on all sides must work to reduce the risk of further violence. Only then will it be possible to take vital steps towards dialogue and reconciliation.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also urged Egypt’s military leaders to respect the basic human rights of the Egyptian people.

Mr Earnest said the violence will only make it more difficult for the parties there to return to a path of peace and democracy.


Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on the UN Security Council and Arab League to take immediate steps to stop a “massacre” in Egypt, saying international silence had paved the way for the Egyptian authorities’ violent crackdown.

“The international community, especially the UN Security Council and Arab League, must act immediately to stop this massacre,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul added: “Armed intervention on civilians, on people demonstrating… This is completely unacceptable.

Turkey has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of what it has called an “unacceptable coup” after Egypt’s military ousted President Morsi.

Qatar State news agency QNA quoted a foreign ministry official as urging Egyptian authorities to “refrain from the security option in dealing with peaceful protests, and to preserve the lives of Egyptians at protest sites.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Iran “while denouncing the violent clashes and condemning the killing of people, expresses its deep concern regarding the horrible consequences.

“Undoubtedly the current approach to developments in Egypt strengthens the likelihood of civil war in this great Islamic country.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office said in a statement: “While the UN is still gathering precise information about today’s events, it appears that hundreds of people were killed or wounded in clashes between security forces and demonstrators.”

British cameraman shot dead

A British cameraman was among the dead in Egypt. Mick Deane was part of a Sky News team in Egypt. The company said he had worked for the broadcaster for 15 years and had been based in Washington and Jerusalem.

The rest of the team covering the outbreak of violence in Cairo with him were unhurt.

Head of Sky News John Ryley described Mr Deane as “the very best of cameramen, a brilliant journalist and an inspiring mentor to many at Sky”.

Mr Deane was with Middle East correspondent Sam Kiley when he was shot.

Mr Ryley said: “Everyone at Sky News is shocked and saddened by Mick’s death. He was a talented and experienced journalist who had worked with Sky News for many years. The loss of a much-loved colleague will be deeply felt across Sky News.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family. We will give them our full support at this extremely difficult time.”