Egypt Death Toll Rises in Sit-ins Crackdown
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Security forces moved in on two Cairo protest camps set up by supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Mursi, launching a crackdown that quickly turned into a bloodbath with dozens dead.
Conflicting reports have emerged over the number of people killed. However, Al Jazeera's correspondent counted 94 bodies in Rabaa al-Adawiya's makeshift hospital, while some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have put the figure up to 2,200, with about 10,000 injured.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the Brotherhood's figure.
The Health Ministry has put the figure at 13 people killed, including five members of the security forces, and a further 98 people injured.
Live footage from Cairo on Wednesday morning showed smoke engulfing Nahda Square, the smaller of the two sit-ins based in Giza, amid reports of tear gas and birdshots being used on supporters of the deposed president.
By mid-morning, the Interior Ministry said security forces had "total control" over Nahda Square, and that "police forces had managed to remove most of the tents" in the area. Security forces had blocked all access to the protest camp.
In an afternoon press conference, the cabinet media advisor thanked the security forces for "exercising self control and high level professionalism in dispersing the sit-ins," and held the Muslim Brotherhood reponsible for "escalation and violence."
Witnesses said that after firing tear gas into the Rabaa al-Adawiye sit-in, located in Nasr City, pandemonium struck among the thousands of protesters who had set up camp there soon after Mursi, country's first democratically elected president, was ousted by the army on July 3.
Clashes quickly erupted between protesters and security forces on one side of the camp, with automatic fire reverberating across the square. It was not immediately clear who was shooting.
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said: "This battle is much bigger than what you're seeing and the casualties. This is a fight for the future of the country, and something that will determine the course of the Egyptian revolution that has been going on for two years now.
"No one expected this to be an easy operation. It became very clear that both sides were engaged in a battle of wills and a dangerous game of brinkmanship."
Television footage showed the injured being carried to a makeshift medical centre as well as police dragging away protesters, who had defied numerous ultimatums by the army-installed authorities to end their demonstrations.
Police barred journalists not already in the camp from entering.
In response to the security operation, Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptians to take to the streets across the country to "stop a massacre".