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Nile City Towers 'assailants' were unarmed: Egyptian NGO

Report by local rights group on 2 August clashes in Cairo's Boulaq El-Ramlah district gives vastly different version of events than that presented by Egypt's mainstream media

Zeinab El Gundy , Wednesday 15 Aug 2012
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Nile City Towers (Photo: Reuters)
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The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a local NGO, has issued a report on the 2 August clashes that took place between residents of Cairo's Boulaq El-Ramlah district and security guards at the Nile City Towers, which eventually escalated into clashes between police and residents that led to the death of one of the latter.

The EIPR report, however, presented a different version of events than that presented by local media.

"The EIPR's investigations revealed another version of what really happened that conflicts with the official narrative adopted by the security forces and the mainstream media," the NGO declared in a Tuesday statement.

During the course of its investigations, the EIPR heard from local residents how security forces had fired tear gas grenades into residential areas, injuring several women and children. The NGO also heard locals' testimony how masked security forces had stormed their homes without warrants and arrested several male residents.

A total of 75 men were arrested from the area on the day of the incident, including a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly tortured later inside a police station.

Most of them have since been released by public prosecutors, except for 16 who face charges of illegal weapons possession, hindering traffic, destroying property, thuggery, resisting police and threatening to use violence against employees of the nearby Fairmont Hotel.

According to the official version of events, a group of thugs from Boulaq El-Ramlah carried out the attack. The thugs, the official story went, had been hired by the management of the upscale Nile City Towers and the Fairmont Hotel to protect their respective properties in the wake of last year's Tahrir Square uprising.

The official story also asserted that hotel management had stopped paying the thugs their monthly salaries, leading one of the latter – Amr Amar, aka Amr El-Bony – to attempt to storm the hotel and terrorise its employees. Amar, who was said to have been armed at the time, was quickly shot dead by hotel security.

The death of Amar then reportedly led angry residents to block adjacent streets and stage violent protests – and set parked cars alight – outside the Nile City Towers. Following the subsequent deployment of Central Security Forces to the area, 17 local residents were arrested for alleged involvement in the affair.

Yet according to the EIPR report, which was based on testimony by local residents, Amar was not armed when he entered the hotel. Rather, residents said, he had been shot twice after being refused entry into the hotel where he had requested a meeting with the hotel's new security manager.

According to eyewitness testimony, Amar was shot in the leg – which, the EIPR stated, "should have been enough to stop any aggression" – before he was killed by another shot to his back.

The police officer said to have killed Amar, meanwhile, has reportedly since been released by public prosecutors, who considered his case one of self defence.

On the dawn of 8 August residents of Ramlet boulak woke up to find their shacks being destroyed as security raided them searching for twenty suspects who allegdly attaked the Nile towers on 2 August. The police arrested seventy young residents and reportedly beat them as well, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.

There has been a long running dispute between area residents, who live on valuable Nile-front land, and developers of the luxurious Nile City Towers who hope to further develop the area at the expense of its lower-income residents.

On 20 June, the Cairo Governorate issued a controversial directive authorising police to evict the district's low-income residents.

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