8 Jul 2013

Muslim Brotherhood calls for uprising after Cairo ‘massacre’

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood calls for an uprising after dozens are killed in a bloody shooting at the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, where ousted president Mohamed Morsi is being held.

(Warning: video contains graphic images)

The Egyptian health ministry said at least 51 people had been killed, in what the military, which ousted Mr Morsi in a coup last week, said was an attack by a “terrorist group” on the compound. More than 400 people are said to have been wounded.

A spokesman for the Egyptian government said the Republican Guard headquarters came under “heavy fire” early on Monday morning, and two policeman and an army officer were killed.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ruling party until the military intervention, said that the deaths had occured when shots were fired on a peaceful sit-in of pro-Morsi supporters at the compound.

One witness, 30-year-old Abdelaziz Abdel Shakua who was shot in the leg, said he had been to the Republican Guard building for a peaceful protest.

Speaking from a hospital, he said: “They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets – everything. Then they used live bullets.”

The Brotherhood’s official spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad, who is at a pro-Morsi sit-in at a mosque near the scene, said 37 Morsi supporters had been killed.

He said shooting broke out in the early morning while Islamists were praying near the Cairo facility.

Mr al-Haddad used his Twitter account to release pictures from the incident. He said there had been reports that five children were killed, including two infants.

Egypt’s interim leader, Adly Mansour, has condemned the violence which he claimed was the result of an attempt to storm the headquarters building. He said he had “deep regret” for those who had lost their lives.

The government said it would set up a committee to investigate the incident.

However, an interim government spokesman also said that the violence would not derail attempts to form the new government.

“What happened will not stop steps to form a government or the (political) roadmap,” Ahmed Elmoslmany said.

A statement on the Muslim Brotherhood’as Facebook page said: “(The Freedom and Justice Party) calls on the great Egyptian people to rise up against those who want to steal their revolution with tanks and armoured vehicles, even over the dead bodies of the people.”

The Freedom and Justice Party is a coalition of Islamist groups who have united against the ousting of Mr Morsi.

In response to the violence, the Islamist Nour party has said it is pulling out of negotiations over a new government due to, what a spokesman called, the “massacre of the Republican Guard”.

At least 35 people also died in violence on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was quieter across Cairo, but large crowds were gathered in locations across the city.

The military overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president on Wednesday, following mass protests against his leadership across the country, and focused on Tahrir Square.

However, following his ousting, Islamist groups called for Morsi’s supporters to protest against the military intervention, from Friday.

‘Calm and restraint’

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for “calm and restraint” in Egypt.

“I condemn the violence that led to the deaths of over 40 people during demonstrations in Egypt overnight. There is an urgent need for calm and restraint,” he said. “I urge all sides to avoid violence and ensure all protests remain peaceful.

“I call on the Egyptian authorities to investigate the events that led to these deaths and ensure that those responsible are held to account in accordance with the rule of law.

“It is crucial that there is a swift return to democratic processes in Egypt. All sides of the political spectrum should work together for the sake of the country’s political and economic future.

“It is for the Egyptian people to chart a way forward. However in our view this should include a path to free and fair elections in which all parties can compete, the release of political leaders and journalists, and work to agree a constitution and the checks and balances of a democratic system that respects the rights of all Egypt’s citizens.

“Urgent steps to improve economic conditions in the country are also vital. As a friend, the UK stands ready to continue to support the people in their desire for a better Egypt.”