At least 90 dead in clashes as Egypt protests continue

Tens of thousands take to streets in defiance of army’s state of emergency

Medical personnel help a pro-Morsi demonstrator at Al-Nour mosque on Ramses Square. Photograph: Bryan Denton/The New York Times

Medical personnel help a pro-Morsi demonstrator at Al-Nour mosque on Ramses Square. Photograph: Bryan Denton/The New York Times

 


Confrontations between security forces and demonstrators claimed at least 90 lives in Egypt yesterday as tens of thousands took to the streets in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency.

Protesters gathered in Cairo and other cities after the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “Day of Rage” against the army’s ousting of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, and the deadly security operation to evict Morsi supporters from protest camps in the capital on Wednesday.


Bulldozers and gunfire
At least 638 people were killed countrywide that day, according to Egypt’s health ministry, but the toll is likely be higher. Most died as security forces used bulldozers and gunfire to break up the Cairo sit-ins, where protesters had camped out for six weeks demanding Mr Morsi’s reinstatement.

Reports from Egypt suggested that yesterday’s protests had widened beyond Muslim Brotherhood supporters angry over Mr Morsi’s overthrow, to include Egyptians outraged over the carnage in their capital. The spokesman of the National Salvation Front (NSF), a coalition of leftist and liberal groups which supported Mr Morsi’s removal in July after millions protested against his rule, resigned citing the NSF’s refusal to condemn what he described as a “massacre” by police. The NSF was formerly led by Mohamed ElBaradei who quit as interim vice-president this week.

The government defended its position, saying it gave demonstrators a chance to leave the protest camps. It accused Brotherhood leaders, many of whom, including Mr Morsi, have been in custody since his removal, of rejecting suggested initiatives to peacefully end the sit-ins

The Brotherhood’s political wing insisted that the group “will continue to mobilise people to take to the streets without resorting to violence and without vandalism” to overturn what it described as an “illegitimate regime”.

The escalating crisis prompted the leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Italy to call for an EU meeting next week to discuss the violence. German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande said Brussels should review its relations with Egypt.

Germany announced it would suspend €25 million in aid to Egypt. On Thursday US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of military exercises with Egypt, however he stopped short of cutting off Washington’s $1.55 billion (€1.6 billion) a year of mostly military aid.