August 16, 2013

Egypt street battles leave at least 64 dead

The protests are larger and fiercer Friday, ignited by the outrage over the deaths of at least 638 people on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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Egyptians lay on the ground after being injured during clashes between security forces and supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Ramses Square, near the Al-Fath mosque, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. Gunfire rang out over a main Cairo overpass and police fired tear gas as clashes broke out after tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets Friday across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the country's bloodshed earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

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A man, center, holding a gun takes his position while having gunfire with other civilians in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. Gunfire rang out over a main Cairo overpass and police fired tear gas as clashes broke out after tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets Friday across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the country's bloodshed earlier this week. (AP Photo/Manoocher Deghati)

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At least 12 people were killed near the square after police fired on protesters. Some appeared to be trying to attack a nearby police station, security officials said. Inside Al-Fath mosque near Ramses Square, where the Brotherhood urged its Cairo supporters to converge, blood-soaked bodies with bullets to the head and chest lay next to one another.

Associated Press photographers saw many of the dead inside the mosque-turned-morgue, which was also acting as a field hospital where the wounded were being wheeled in on wooden crates. One corpse had a name and phone number scribbled on the chest.

The upper floors of a commercial building towering over Ramses Square caught fire later in the day, with flames engulfing it for hours. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire at the building housing the Arab Contractors' construction company, but no injuries were reported.

Similar scenes played out in Egypt's second-largest city of Alexandria, where at least 10 people were killed in clashes between protesters and their rivals, according to a security official. Violence was also fierce in the province of Fayoum, just west of Cairo, where 11 people died during an attempt to storm the main security building there.

Fighting also broke out in at least five other provinces.

In the southern province of Minya, two churches were attacked by protesters, security officials said. At churches across the country, residents formed human chains to protect them from further assaults, and a civilian was killed while trying to protect a church in Sohag, south of Cairo, authorities said.

Many of Morsi's supporters have voiced criticism at Egypt's Christian minority for largely supporting the military's decision to oust him from office, and dozens of churches have been attacked this week.

Also Friday, security officials said assailants detonated explosives on train tracks between Alexandria and the western Mediterranean Sea province of Marsa Matrouh. There were no injuries and no trains were damaged, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, has been in turmoil since Morsi was removed from power by the military on July 3, following days of mass protests against him and his Brotherhood group. But Morsi's supporters have remained defiant, demanding the coup be overturned. The international community has urged both sides to show restraint and end the turmoil engulfing the nation.

On Wednesday, riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of Morsi supporters, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. Some 40 police officers also were killed.

The Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement Friday that the group is not backing down.

"The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation, an Islamic, national, moral and human obligation which we will not steer away from until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered," the statement said.

The group also asserted that its protests were peaceful.

The revolutionary and liberal groups that helped topple Morsi have largely stayed away from street rallies in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, state-run and private television stations have been broadcasting footage from Wednesday's violence they say shows armed men firing toward security forces. Graphic videos have emerged online portraying the violence from the vantage point of the protesters.

One video, authenticated by The Associated Press based on landmarks and reporting from Wednesday's crackdown, shows armored personnel carriers driving protesters back from an area near the main sit-in as continuous volleys of automatic gunfire rang out.

In the footage, the crowd was shown retreating after throwing stones at the approaching vehicles, leaving several bloodied men motionless on the ground. After a loudspeaker announcement instructed the crowd to evacuate, promising safe passage, a vehicle approached and the barrel of a weapon emerged from one of its gun ports.

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Additional Photos

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Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi march towards Old Cairo carrying the coffin, covered with a national flag, of a colleague who was killed during Wednesday's clashes.

AP

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Egyptians evacuate a wounded man during clashes between security forces and supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Ramses Street, downtown Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. Gunfire rang out over a main Cairo overpass and police fired tear gas as clashes broke out after tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets Friday across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the country's bloodshed earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

 


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