Egypt: Scores Dead in Bloody ‘Day of Rage’

August 16, 2013  

Scores are dead in Egypt as a Muslim Brotherhood-led “day of rage” turned to bloodshed on Friday.

Al Jazeera reported that at least 80 people were killed and hundreds injured in Cairo’s Ramses Square as anti-coup protesters were fired on by government forces.

A protester, Said Mohammed, told Al Jazeera that the crowds were shot at by men in helicopters.

“Helicopters started to shoot us as we were walking. My friend took a shot in the neck and he died,” he said. “This was the first time we saw helicopters shooting. There were people shooting from the windows.”

Earlier, on October 6 bridge near Ramses Square, a protester told Al Jazeera that there was “blood in the streets” as police fired tear gas and bullets at marchers, as what sounded like gunfire could be heard in the background.

Reuters reported that eight protesters had been killed in the city of Damietta, while four were killed in clashes with security forces in the Egyptian city of Ismailia, northeast of Cairo.

In Alexandria, five people were reported dead in clashes between pro- and anti-coup supporters, according to Al Jazeera.

The Muslim Brotherhood and anti-coup groups had called for the protests after Friday prayers in support of the deposed president, Mohammed Morsi and in defiance of a military crackdown on sit-in demonstrations that left more than 600 protesters dead on August 14.

In a statement quoted by Al Jazeera, the Egyptian Army said it had started to deploy forces along all main roads and squares, and was ready to intervene “in case there is any imminent threat that violates the people’s security.”

A curfew came into effect at 5:00 p.m. GMT, with authorities warning “firm action” against anyone who broke it.

In response to the violence, U.S. President Obama said Thursday that the United States “deplores” and “strongly condemns” violence in Egypt, and as a result is canceling U.S.-Egyptian military exercises scheduled for next month.

He said the United States believes the Egyptian government’s “state of emergency should be lifted” and a process of reconciliation must begin.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday his country will retain its military ties with Egypt but more violence by the army could jeopardize the relationship.

“The Department of Defense will continue to maintain a military relationship with Egypt, but I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk,” he said.

The United Nations Security Council, which held an urgent meeting on Thursday night, called on the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise “maximum restraint” and end the violence spreading across the country.

Council members also called for national reconciliation and expressed regret at the loss of life.

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