Egypt troops fire on pro-Morsi rally; 3 reported dead

July 6, 2013

At least 30 killed in day of protests in Egypt
CAIRO — At least 30 people were killed Friday in Egypt as gunfire and running battles erupted in several cities during a day of protests called by Islamists angered by the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

At least 12 deaths were reported in clashes In Alexandria, the country’s second largest city, after Islamists opened fire on a rally of Morsi opponents, a medical services official told the Associated Press. Police sided with Morsi protesters in the Mediterranean coastal city.

More than 400 were reported injured nationwide, the Health Ministry said.

In Cairo, the bloodiest confrontation came as troops opened fire on protesters outside the Republican Guards military barracks where the ousted president is being held. A Health Ministry official told the Associated Press that four people were killed.

Hundreds of demonstrators had marched to the site following afternoon prayers, chanting, “After sunset, President Morsi will be back in the palace.”

Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was removed from office two days ago by the military, which also ordered the suspension of the constitution and parliament.

At nightfall, a crowd of Islamists surged across the October 6 Bridge over the Nile River and clashed with Morsi opponents near Tahrir Square and outside the state TV building. One witness reported gunfire and stone-throwing, and one person was killed, said Khaled el-Khatib, of the Health Ministry.

Late Friday, military armored vehicles arrived on the bridge and outside the TV station to stop the fighting, and Morsi supporters retreated.

Adham AbdelSalam, an Egyptian television and radio presenter, tweeted reports and photos from Tahrir Square showing injured civilians and a bullet casing in his hand.

“At #tahrir now… sounds of machine / automatic gun fire from pro #morsi supporters shot at protesters now,” AbdelSalam tweeted. “Live from #tahrir… one more dead… by pro #morsi bullets.”

As central Cairo descended into chaos Friday night, the country appeared to severely lack leadership as security forces failed to protect citizens.

Police and military did not initially intervene in clashes that broke out along the Nile, and security remained largely absent on streets across the capital, except in strategic locations.

Helicopters flew over the capital as anti-Morsi demonstrators rallied in Tahrir Square, which is not far from where clashes broke out and is several miles away from Nasr City, where Morsi supporters gathered.

Clashes, some involving police, erupted in cities of southern Egypt, along the Suez Canal and in the Nile Delta as Morsi supporters marched on local government buildings.

Four, and possibly five, police officers were shot dead in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, where Islamists stormed the main government building, authorities reported. One person was killed in the southern city of Assiut.

Late Friday, Egyptian authorities denied an earlier report by state television that curfews had been imposed in the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, which are on the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip.

In Cairo, there were conflicting reports regarding the shooting outside the Republican Guards barracks. Journalists with several news organizations reported seeing Egyptian troops open fire on the crowd, while Reuters quoted a military spokesman as saying the army fired only blank rounds and tear gas at the protesters, not live ammunition.

BBC reporter Jeremy Boven, who was hit above the ear by shotgun pellets, said he saw the soldiers fire on the protesters.

Gehad El-Haddad, the spokesman for Muslim Brotherhood, said it was military police nearby — not the Republican Guards — who opened fire. He said on a Twitter post that he did not know whether the shots were fired “under panic or by order.”

The protests, called by Islamists as a “Friday of Rejection,” broke out in several locations in the city, including Cairo University and in front of state TV, as well as on the October 6 bridge.

In the midst of the violence, parliament was formally dissolved by interim President Adly Mansour, who was appointed by the military.

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The gunfire at the barracks broke out as marchers approached a barbed wire barrier and one supporter hung a pro-Morsi sign.

Troops standing guard tore down the sign and warned the crowd to stay back. A protester then hung a second sign and the soldiers opened fire on the crowd, according to an AP photographer at the scene.

Several protesters fell bloodied to the ground. At least person one had a gaping, bleeding exit wound in the back of his head.

Fellow protesters carried the body into a nearby building and covered his head with a blanket, declaring him dead, according to AP Television News footage.

Protesters pelted the line of troops with stones, and the soldiers responded with volleys of tear gas.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/05/egypt-morsi-rally/2491035/

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