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REPORT: Egypt's "Day of Rage" turns violent, dozens of protesters killed

16-08-2013
18:30
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Muslim Brotherhood protests plunged into violence across Egypt on Friday, with around 50 killed in Cairo alone on a "Day of Rage" called by Islamist followers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to denounce a police crackdown.            

Automatic gunfire echoed across Cairo and black smoke billowed from the capital's huge Ramses Square, a military helicopter hovering low overhead looking down on the chaos.                             

A Reuters witness saw the bodies of 27 people, apparently hit by gunfire and birdshot, wrapped in white sheets in a mosque. A Reuters photographer said security forces opened fire from numerous directions when a police station was attacked.          

At least 20 people died in clashes elsewhere in Egypt.            

The violence followed Wednesday's assault by security forces on two Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead, as the military-backed government tried to end weeks of turbulence that has pushed the Arab world's most populous state to the brink of disaster.                        

Western governments urged restraint and Germany cautioned the new government that it was reviewing its ties. By contrast, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said his country stood with Egypt in its battle against "terrorism".                           

The army deployed armored vehicles on major roads around the capital and the Interior Ministry said police would use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings.              

"Sooner or later I will die. Better to die for my rights than in my bed. Guns don't scare us anymore," said Sara Ahmed, 28, a business manager who joined the demonstrators in Cairo.              

"It's not about the Brotherhood, it's about human rights," said Ahmed, one of the few women in the crowd not wearing a headscarf, a sign of piety for Muslim women.                            

Anger on the streets was directed at army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who moved against Morsi last month after massive street rallies against the his administration that had been dogged by accusations of incompetence and partisanship.                  

"The people want the butcher executed," said Mustafa Ibrahim, 37, referring to Sisi, as he marched with a crowd of several thousand on downtown Cairo under blazing summer sun.                      

Emergency services said eight protesters were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean town of Damietta, five in Fayoum south of Cairo, four in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia and four in the Nile delta town of Tanta. One person was killed in Alexandria, Egypt's second city.                

A police conscript was killed in a drive-by shooting in the north of the capital, state news agency MENA reported. Nile TV showed footage of a gunman among Islamist protesters firing from a central Cairo bridge.                

The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup when it ousted Morsi on July 3. Liberal and youth activists who backed the military saw the move as a positive response to public demands.                  

But some fear Egypt is turning back into the kind of police state that kept the disgraced Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years before his removal in 2011, as security institutions recover their confidence and reassert control.                

In calling for a "Day of Rage," the Brotherhood used the same name as that given to the most violent day of the uprising against Mubarak. That day, Jan. 28, 2011, marked the protesters' victory over the police, who were forced to retreat.   


REUTERS


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