Scores killed in a ‘Day of Rage’
CAIRO — Muslim Brotherhood protests plunged into violence across Egypt yesterday, with around 50 killed in Cairo alone on a “Day of Rage” called by Islamist followers of ousted President Mohamed Mursi to denounce a police crackdown.
Automatic gunfire echoed across Cairo and black smoke billowed from the capital’s huge Ramses Square, a military helicopter hovering low overhead looking down on the chaos.
A Reuters witness saw the bodies of 27 people, apparently hit by gunfire and birdshot, wrapped in white sheets in a mosque. A Reuters photographer said security forces opened fire from numerous directions when a police station was attacked.
At least 20 people died in clashes elsewhere in Egypt.
The violence followed Wednesday’s assault by security forces on two Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead, as the military-backed government tried to end weeks of turbulence that has pushed the Ar- ab world’s most populous state to the brink of disaster.
Western governments urged restraint and Germany cautioned the new government that it was reviewing its ties. By contrast, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said his country stood with Egypt in its battle against “terrorism”.
The army deployed armoured vehicles on major roads around the capital and the Interior Ministry said police would use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings.
“Sooner or later I will die. Better to die for my rights than in my bed. Guns don’t scare us anymore,” said Sara Ahmed (28), a business manager who joined the demonstrators in Cairo.
“I’s not about the Brotherhood, it’s about human rights,” said Ahmed.
Anger on the streets was directed at army commander General Abdel Fattah alSisi, who moved against Mursi last month after massive street rallies against his administration that had been dogged by accusations of incompetence and partisanship. “The people want the butcher executed,” said Mustafa Ibrahim (37), referring to Sisi, as he marched with a crowd of several thousand on downtown Cairo under blazing summer sun.
Emergency services said eight protesters were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean town of Damietta, five in Fayoum south of Cairo, four in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia and four in the Nile delta town of Tanta. One person was killed in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city.
The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup when it ousted Mursi on July 3. Liberal and youth activists who backed the military saw the move as a positive response to public demands.
But some fear Egypt is turning back into the kind of police state that kept the disgraced Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years before his removal in 2011, as security institutions recover their confidence and reassert control. — Reuters.