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Gunmen fire at security forces during Al-Fath Mosque standoff

Angry crowds surround Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square where more than 1,500 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi are trapped following violent clashes Friday

Ahram Online , Saturday 17 Aug 2013
A protester who supports ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is escorted by police as she leaves
A protester who supports ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is escorted by police as she leaves
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Clashes intensify again at Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, central Cairo, Saturday as angry crowds and security forces exchange gunfire. 

After fierce nationwide clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents, as well as with police, around 1,500 pro-Morsi protesters sought refuge inside the mosque, demanding a “safe exit” from the area.

Armed men are shooting at army forces from inside the mosque's minaret. Forces on the ground are returning fire up at the shooters, reports Ahram Online's Bel Trew. 

A group of about 500 pro-Morsi protesters are reportedly in a barricaded room at the back of the mosque.

Live television footage shows hundreds of people gathered outside the mosque in Ramses Square in downtown Cairo, with several army tanks present in the area and helicopters hover overhead.

Thousands of residents of the Ramses district remain outside the mosque, some reportedly armed, trying to storm the building. Police are currently besieging the mosque and creating a buffer between the two groups.

According to Ahram Online's reporter onsite, police forces are starting to create an exit passage for Morsi supporters trapped in the mosque. However, the first person attempting to leave the mosque was attacked by angry residents at the scene.

Police forces have formed a cordon around the mosque. Loud gunfire is heard but its source is unknown.

Army soldiers have also intervened to disperse the crowds and allow those trapped to exit the mosque, repeatedly firing shots in the air.   

A dead body was also seen taken out of the mosque, according to Ahram Online’s reporter. Those trapped are exiting the mosque one by one escorted by police.

Negotiations between Morsi supporters and police have been ongoing since Friday but it remains unclear what position has been reached.

On Friday, head of the Doctors’ Syndicate Khaled Abdel-Dayem — who reported that 1,500 protesters, 31 doctors and 70 injured were trapped in the mosque — told Al-Ahram Arabic website that Morsi supporters were demanding a safe exit because they fear if they leave the mosque they will be arrested and humiliated.  

Clashes erupted Friday between pro-Morsi protesters and residents of Ramsis area where demonstrations against Wednesday's killings — stemming from the clearance of pro-Morsi sit-ins — were converging.

Clashes also erupted between pro-Morsi protesters and police at Azbakeya police station. More than 54 were killed according to medical sources.

Nationwide, alongside similar clashes, police stations, government buildings and churches came under attack.

The interior ministry announced on Saturday that 1,004 were arrested since clashes broke out Friday. It also announced that illegal weapons had been confiscated.

The military's spokesperson announced earlier Friday that the armed forces had arrested 60 during clashes in Ramsis.

Morsi supporters announced they would be holding a week of demonstrations all over Egypt protesting the violent dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda Square sit-ins Wednesday.

Over 600 people were killed and thousands injured when the police dispersed protest camps of supporters of deposed president Morsi in Cairo’s Nasr City district and Giza.

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