Violent overnight clashes have killed dozens in the vicinity of a sit-in by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo's Nasr City.
In the afternoon, the scene in front of the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier on Nasr Road, where clashes had taken place early on Saturday morning, was calm. Army soldiers cleaned the streets while some protesters mourned the dead, reported Ahram Online's Randa Ali.
(Photo: Randa Ali)
Earlier on Saturday morning, police had continued to fire teargas in the vicinty as scuffles were still ongoing with supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi from the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, while hundreds of protesters pelted stones at security forces and set fire to tires near barbed wire baracades that police set up to prevent protesters from advancing.
Violence erupted in the early hours of Saturday at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier when police clashed with pro-Morsi protesters seeking to block the nearby 6 October Bridge.
Interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said Saturday afternoon that protesters had started to block traffic, then "clashed with residents of the nearby [working class] Mansheyet Nasr district using live fire and birdshot, and this killed 21 people."
"The police moved to stop the clashes between the two groups and opened the road again," he added. Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim also reiterated that the police had only used teargas in the clashes.
Egypt's health ministry on Saturday morning announced that 65 died in the clashes. Brotherhood figures have said the number of dead stands at at least 200.
Ahram Online spoke to Ismail Hasheesh, a doctor at the sit-in's field hospital who had been on duty during the clashes. He said that at least 55 people had been killed, and that most of those were already dead or close to death by the time they reached the field hospital.
Most of those killed, according to the doctor, died from live ammunition injuries to the head and stomach.
A security source told MENA earlier that the police did not use live fire against protesters and said they only used teargas to disperse the crowds.
Meanwhile, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition of mainly Islamist parties led by the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement describing what happened as a "massacre."
In its account, it said that as the number of protesters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya increased, many moved through nearby roads. The statement claimed that police fired teargas at protesters and then started firing birdshot and live rounds.
The alliance condemned the violence and vowed that it will continue its sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya.
For weeks, thousands of pro-Morsi protesters have been staging a sit-in near Rabaa Al-Adawyia Mosque and another at Giza's Al-Nahda Square in front of Cairo University. They have also been organising marches across Egypt to demand the reinstatement of Morsi as president.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, organised mass protests Friday in an attempt to counterbalance mass demonstrations called for by army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, aimed at providing the army and the police with "mandate to deal with violence and potential terrorism."
Responding to El-Sisi's call, millions hit the streets across the country Friday, chanting against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and in support of the Egyptian army.
After one year in office, Morsi was ousted 3 July as part of the Egyptian Armed Forces' roadmap, enforced shortly after unprecedented mass protests against the former elected president.
Morsi supporters and opponents have frequently faced off since his overthrow, leaving at least 100 dead and hundreds injured in the past few weeks. Both camps have used firearms, among other weapons, against each other on many occasions.