Three Mursi supporters killed
‘Friday of Rage’ as thousands march in protest over ousting of president
CAIRO: At least three protesters were shot dead yesterday outside the Republican Guard barracks in Cairo where deposed President Mohamed Mursi is being held, security sources said, as angry Islamist supporters confronted troops across the country.
Thousands of people marched across the country in what Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called a “Friday of Rage” to protest against his ouster and an interim government set up to prepare for fresh elections.
Egypt’s first freely elected president was toppled on Wednesday in what his Islamist supporters call a military coup.
Mursi supporters in Cairo were hit by shotgun pellets after a crowd of several hundred people marched towards the barracks where Mursi is being held.
Reuters photographers took pictures of at least one dead young man and several severely wounded being carried from the scene.
The army denied blame for the shootings. An army spokesman said troops did not open fire on the demonstrators and soldiers used only blank rounds and tear gas to control the crowd.
It was unclear whether security forces other than army troops were also present.
Later, tens of thousands of cheering Islamists gathered near a mosque in a Cairo suburb where they were addressed by Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, free to address them despite reports on Thursday that he had been arrested.
In a fiery speech, he vowed to “complete the revolution”, and repeatedly referred to Mursi as the president.
“To the great Egyptian army, I say “Allahu Akbar” (God is great)… I say… we will sacrifice,” he shouted as a military helicopter hovered low overhead.
He urged the army not to fire on its own citizens, and added: “Our bare chests are stronger than bullets.”
Continued violence would alarm the US. Washington has so far avoided referring to the army's removal of Mursi as a “coup”, a word that under US law would require a halt to its $1.5 billion (R15bn) in annual aid. Mursi’s opponents also say it was not a coup but an intervention to impose the “people’s will”.
Egypt has been in turmoil since the fall of Hosni Mu- barak in the “Arab Spring” revolutions that swept the region in 2011.
Several dozen people have been killed in the past month of unrest, during which huge rallies in Cairo and other cities called for Mursi’s resignation amid anger over economic stagnation and perceptions of a Brotherhood power grab.
His overthrow on Wednesday was greeted with wild scenes of celebration involving millions of people, but also infuriated his supporters who fear a return to the suppression of Islamists they endured under generations of military rule.
Mohamed Ezzat, 35, who said he was a Brotherhood member, said protesters would stage a sit-in outside the Republican Guard headquarters and other locations throughout Cairo, in protest against the “coup” against Mursi.
“The most important thing with the army is that they stay out of politics. We had a legitimate, elected president, and the army came and removed him,” he said.
Clashes were across the country.
Thousands of Islamists took to the streets of Alexandria and Assiut to join protests, and in Damanhour, capital of the Beheira province in the Nile Delta, 21 people were wounded in violence between supporters and opponents of Mursi.
Ehab el-Ghoneimy, manager of the Damanhour general hospital, said three people had been wounded with live bullets, others were wounded with birdshot, rocks, or had been hit with rods.
In the Suez city of Ismailia, soldiers fired into the air as Mursi supporters tried to break into the governor’s office. The Islamists retreated and there were no casualties, security sources said.
State television and radio also reported clashes in the Nile Delta towns of Gharbeya and Beheira, in Qena south of Cairo and the rural province of Fayoum. No casualties were reported.
Egypt’s liberal coalition issued an “urgent call” for its supporters to take to the streets in response to Islamist protests.
In the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel, two police officers were shot dead yesterday by unknown gunmen in El Arish, medical sources said in an incident not believed to be linked to the protests.
Overnight, gunmen fired rocket- propelled grenades at army checkpoints guarding an airport there and fired rockets at a police station near the border with the Palestinian territory of Gaza, killing one soldier and wounding two.
An army spokesman said the army in the Sinai Peninsula was “on alert”. He denied an earlier report by state- owned media Al-Ahram that a state of emergency had been imposed in the South Sinai and Suez provinces, which had caused a spike in oil prices from international markets on edge over the unrest.
Egypt’s interim head of state, appointed on Thursday, began work to prepare the country for new elections, dissolving parliament by decree. State television also said he appointed a new head of intelligence.
Foreign diplomacy was being handled by the head of Egypt’s armed forces yesterday, as General Abdel Fattah alSisi called Saudi King Abdullah to reassure him Egypt was stable. – Reuters Goldberg, who was convicted along with Mandela in 1964, said life-support would only be turned off in the event of complete organ failure and “since that hasn’t occurred they were quite prepared to go on stabilising him until he recovers”.
Yesterday Maharaj confirmed his statement made on Thursday, after Zuma visited Mandela, that he remained in a critical but stable condition.
“The doctors deny that the former president is in a vegetative state,” Maharaj added.
Machel had also said the former president was fine.
Meanwhile, Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe, who heads the family group opposing his eldest grandson Mandla, visited Madiba in hospital yesterday. Granddaughters Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini also visited him.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that if an unknown person had not spilled the beans about Mandla moving the remains in question “in the dead of night”, Makaziwe and the rest of the family would never have known.
Court papers said it was “only when the Mandela family decided to dig up the so-called ‘graves’ at their plot in Qunu”, and found them empty, “that the First Respondent (Mandla) admitted that he had secretly removed the remains to Mvezo”.
Advocate David Smith, for the family, says in his certificate of urgency to the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha that the three were originally buried in a public cemetery near Mthatha. In 2010 the family received permission for the re-internment of the remains at their plot in Qunu.
It is understood that an unknown person then told the family Mandla had illegally exhumed the bodies and reburied them in Mvezo in 2011.
The remains were exhumed on Tuesday and reburied in Qunu on Thursday.
On Thursday, Mandla launched a scathing attack on his relatives, accusing them of adultery and of milking his grandfather’s fame.
Mthatha police investigators have reportedly collected “most of the evidence” in a grave tampering case involving Mandla Mandela, and would give the docket to a senior prosecutor.