Egypt declares national emergency

Cairo -- Egypt’s presidency has declared a state of emergency after scores of people were killed when security forces stormed protest camps in Cairo.
Reports of casualty figures have varied widely. Net photo.
Reports of casualty figures have varied widely. Net photo.

Cairo -- Egypt’s presidency has declared a state of emergency after scores of people were killed when security forces stormed protest camps in Cairo.

The camps had been occupied by supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi, who was deposed in early July.

 

Security forces say 95 people have been killed. But the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the protests, says hundreds have died.

 

The state of emergency is scheduled to last for a month.

 

Shortly after dawn on Wednesday morning, armoured bulldozers moved deep into the main protest camp outside the eastern Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

Officials say the other protest camp, at Nahda Square, has also been cleared.

Reporters described wounded protesters being treated next to the dead in makeshift field hospitals.

The 17-year-old daughter of leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy was among the dead, reports say. Asmaa el-Beltagy was shot in the back and chest, her brother said.

A cameraman working for Sky News, Mick Deane, has also been killed - as has a reporter for Gulf News, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the violence. He urged “all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation”, his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

There are also reports of unrest elsewhere in Egypt.

1. At least five people have been killed in the province of Suez, according to the health ministry. Witnesses say Morsi supporters attempted to storm government buildings there

2. Clashes have also been reported in the northern provinces of Alexandria and Beheira, and the central provinces of Assiut and Menya

3. Hundreds are said to have gathered outside the governor’s office in Aswan in the south

4. State news agency Mena says three churches were attacked in central Egypt, one in the city of Sohag with a large number of Coptic Christian residents

The interior ministry said a mopping-up operation in the streets surrounding Nahda Square was under way.

Pro-Morsi activists were chased into the nearby zoo and Cairo University, Nile TV said.

It is still unclear how many casualties were caught up in the two Cairo operations. Figures differ widely and have been impossible to verify independently.

BBC Arabic’s Khaled Ezzelarab says he counted at least 50 bodies at the makeshift hospitals around Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

Ikhwanonline, the website of the Muslim Brotherhood, says that in total more than 800 were killed.

The health ministry has issued an official death toll of 95.

The interior ministry denied any deaths were caused by its forces firing live ammunition.

“Security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts,” the ministry said in a statement.

The government has meanwhile congratulated the security forces on their operation to clear the camps.

In a televised statement, a government spokesman praised their “self-restraint” and spoke of the “smaller number” of injuries among protesters. In a televised statement, a government spokesman praised their “self-restraint” and spoke of the “smaller number” of injuries among protesters.

The government would decisively confront attempts to attack state buildings and police stations, he said. Supporters of Mr Morsi have been occupying Nahda Square and the Rabaa al-Adawiya site since h was ousted on 3 July. They want him reinstated.

Large plumes of smoke rose over parts of the city as the operation to clear the camps began, with tear gas canisters fired and helicopters hovering above.

Agencies

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