Egypt Burns Again : Egyptian Security Forces strike back at protestors
No one was surprised when Egyptian Security Forces, on Wednesday, had launched a deadly assault on protest sites backing the ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The crackdown has left scores of people dead and many more wounded. The action sparked clashes in other parts of the country. Troops, fired teargas and live rounds and cleared the first of the strongholds near Cairo University. It was more difficult and bloody at Rabaa al-Adawiya in the east of Cairo. Members if Muslim Brotherhood had remained barricaded near the mosque that had been the focal point of their protest. The dawn raids in Cairo at the sites on either side of the Nile came after two weeks of warnings from the military-led government that replaced Morsi after he was toppled almost six weeks ago.
The Brotherhood claimed that up to 60 people had been killed in Rabaa. Photographs from the field hospital show more than 40 bodies laid out on a blood-slicked floor. Bodies from Rabaa at Cairo's Zeinhom morgue were being turned away because they had arrived without the right paperwork. Witnesses at Rabaa reported that snipers were fired from nearby residential buildings on crowds of people, who had huddled in the grounds of the mosque and nearby buildings as troops advanced.
Egyptian interior ministry had made no secret of the fact that an assault on the sites was imminent and Brotherhood members had spent the past fortnight fortifying approaches and erecting makeshift defences. As the assault started, security forces offered safe passage to those who wanted to leave and said anyone who remained would be detained. However, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson told the media that there was no safe exit for those still trapped inside. The interior ministry, whose forces led the assault, later denied that live rounds had been used. Some officials claimed Brotherhood members had been responsible for the casualties.
While the crackdown was aimed at ending pro-Morsi dissent, it had achieved the opposite. Forced out of west Cairo's Nahda camp, hundreds of protesters reassembled at Mostafa Mahmoud Square in the north-east of the city, and further violence soon ensued. Protesters set light to a riot police lorry and ripped up pavements to build walls to protect the new site. Security forces quickly arrived, firing teargas – with sustained gunfire also heard.
Elsewhere in the city, pro-Morsi crowds assembled to march on Rabaa, while an upsurge in violence was reported in several locations across Egypt, including the northern port of Alexandria.