August 14, 2013
Heavy Casualties in Egypt as Police Storm Camps
Casualties are rising in Egypt after security forces moved in with armored vehicles, bulldozers and tear gas to clear two protest camps in Cairo set up by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Amid the bloodshed, Egypt's interim presidency Wednesday announced a one-month state of emergency had begun and ordered the armed forces to help the Interior Ministry enforce security. In addition, a nighttime curfew was declared in Cairo and a number of other provinces.
There are widely divergent estimates of the death toll from the clashes.
The United Nations said it appears hundreds were killed or wounded in the clashes between security forces and demonstrators demanding Mr. Morsi's reinstatement. The Muslim Brotherhood called the security operation a "massacre" and put the death toll at 500, while Egypt's Health Ministry said at least 95 people were killed and 874 wounded.
Witnesses and foreign journalists reported that security forces used live fire from automatic rifles, while the army released photos of pro-Morsi supporters using weapons against riot police. The Interior Ministry said its forces used only tear gas and that they came under fire from the camps.
Scores of people were arrested, including Brotherhood leaders.
Clashes also broke out elsewhere in the capital and other provinces across the country as Islamist anger over the crackdown spread, with police stations, government buildings and Coptic Christian churches attacked or set ablaze.
In a televised statement, a government spokesman blamed the violence in Cairo on the Muslim Brotherhood and hailed police for their "professionalism."
"The government demands the political leadership of the Brotherhood stop incitements to violence and holds these leaders fully responsible for any blood that is shed. The government also salutes the efforts of the security services for...using the utmost self-restraint and highest degree of professionalism in the operation to clear the sit-in."
A number of countries -- including Britain, Turkey and Qatar -- quickly condemned the use of force by Egyptian authorities and called for restraint. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also denounced the violence.
Hours after the operation began, authorities said they had cleared the smaller encampments at Nahda Square, near Cairo University.
But clashes continued at the larger camp around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the eastern suburb of Nasr City that has served as the epicenter of the pro-Morsi campaign. Television footage showed smoke rising over the protest site and military helicopters circling in the sky.
Egypt's railway authority said train service in and out of Cairo was suspended to keep activists from regrouping elsewhere.
An alliance of pro-Morsi groups said the teenage daughter of a senior Brotherhood leader was shot dead in the larger of the two vigils stormed by police in Cairo.