Human Rights: Gunbattle in Cairo mosque

August 18, 2013 | By | Reply More

Aug 18, – Egyptian police cleared Islamist protesters from a Cairo mosque on Saturday after a standoff that included exchanges of fire, as the death toll from four days of violence surpassed 750.

hromedia Gunbattle in Cairo mosque arab uprising2The gunmen took over a mosque minaret and opened fire on the security forces below, the state-run Mena news agency said. The crowd around the mosque panicked as soldiers opened fire with assault rifles, the chaos broadcast live on local television channels.

Security forces dragged supporters of deposed president Mohammed Mursi from Al Fatah Mosque, passing through angry crowds who tried to beat the Islamists, calling them “terrorists”.

The clashes came as the government said 173 people had been killed in the past 24 hours alone, bring the country’s death toll to more than 750 since Wednesday, when police cleared two camps of Mursi loyalists in the capital.

According to an AFP tally, at least 1,042 people have been killed since June 26, when Mursi supporters began protesting before mass demonstrations against the Islamist leader that prompted the military to end his single year of turbulent rule on July 3.

The standoff at Al Fatah Mosque in central Ramses Square began on Friday night, with security forces surrounding the building where Islamists were sheltering and trying to convince them to leave. The Islamists had lined up the bodies of dozens of protesters who had been killed on Friday inside the mosque-turned-morgue.

By Saturday afternoon, the situation turned violent, with gunmen inside the mosque trading fire with police outside. Police eventually dragged people from inside the mosque, firing in the air to hold back residents of the area who tried to attack the Islamists with sticks and iron bars.

Both outside the mosque and in several other parts of Cairo, residents targeted those suspected of being Islamists, often for no more than wearing a beard or a veil.

The government said clashes killed least 173 people across the country, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria. Among those killed on Friday was a son of Mohamed Badie, chief of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The Anti-Coup Alliance of Mursi supporters announced it would end the protests shortly after a night-time curfew came into effect, but pledged daily demonstrations going forward.  The Interior Ministry said it had arrested 1,004 Brotherhood ‘elements’, and on Saturday security sources said the brother of Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri had been detained.

The Egyptian government, meanwhile, announced it had begun deliberations on whether to ban the Brotherhood, a long-outlawed organisation that swept to power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.

Such a ban — which authorities say is rooted in the group’s use of violence — would be a repeat to the historic and decades-long power struggle between the state and the Brotherhood. It also could provoke more unrest in Egypt following the July 3 military coup against president Mohammed Mursi, a Brotherhood member.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat, contributed to this report.

 

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Category: Arab uprising

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