March 28, 2017

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  • Scores killed as MOI denies using live shots

    Outside Zeinhom morgue crowds wheel in one of the victims of deadly police violence near the Rabaa mosque sit-in Saturday morning. (Photo by Hassan Ibrahim)

    CAIRO – Tens of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi were killed in confrontations with security forces close to the site of a month-long massive sit-in, as the interior minister denies the police had “ever” shot any protesters.

    According to Al Jazeera, the exact death toll from Saturday’s violence was not immediately clear, the health ministry has put the figure at 60 killed so far, based on the number of bodies received at the morgue. However, doctors at the field hospital in Nasr City, where the pro-Morsi supporters have been gathering at the Rabaah Al-Adaweya Mosque, have put the number as high as 120.

    Footage of the violence circulating on social networks and later broadcast on Al Jazeera whose channels were scrambled intermittently since late Friday until around noon Saturday, showed tens of bodies wrapped up in white cloth. It also showed police trucks driving erratically amid protesters, firing teargas canisters and what appeared to be live ammunition and bird shot.

    Some images taken  by photographer Mosaab El Shami at the scene confirmed the footage, showing the blood-stained  floor of the field hospital.

    In a later press conference Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused the Muslim Brotherhood of provoking the violence in order to win sympathy from the public.

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    “The police has never shot at a protester,” he added.

    He denied that the police used firearms against civilians Saturday morning but said police were fired on by protesters. “Fourteen officers were shot in the head with live ammunition and are in critical condition,” he said.

    Ibrahim also said that the MOI was coordinating with the armed forces to devise a strategy to disperse Cairo’s largest pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa and Nahda Square, just as the MOI published a statement imploring the “honorable citizens” to end their sit-in within 48 hours, according to a report on OnTV.

    On Friday night, interim president Adly Mansour said that the sit-in will be dispersed according the the law.

    In a post on twitter, however, head of Human Right Watch Heba Morayef emphasized that there is no legal way to disperse a sit-in in Egypt.

    “Such dispersals at the hands of the police or military are always done using excessive force killing unarmed [protesters],” she wrote.

    On July 8, at least 53 Morsi supporters were killed when army personnel opened fire at them during a dawn raid close to the Republican Guards club where they believed Morsi was being held incommunicado since he was ousted by military coup on July 3.

    Hundreds of people were wounded that day, and hundreds of others were rounded up by security forces at the pretext that they were part of a terrorist group that was attempting to attack the army premises.

    Opponents of Morsi staged massive rallies in Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya Friday, responding to an invitation by Army Chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who had called for a show of support to give him a “mandate” to confront “potential terrorists”.

    His call was widely perceived as a prelude to a violent crackdown on Morsi supporters just as Morsi himself was detained for 15 days on charges of espionage and the murder of Egyptian soldiers, the Muslim Brotherhood says are politically-motivated.

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