Three Mursi sup­port­ers killed

‘Fri­day of Rage’ as thou­sands march in protest over oust­ing of pres­i­dent

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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