Glass shattered on the floor, vehicles charred, blocks of bricks deployed on Al-Nasr Street across a distance of one kilometre separating between a line of security forces and the pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo's Nasr City.
“Photograph the blood before they clean it,” one protester said as a number of army soldiers gathered in front of the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier to sweep the ground that witnessed a long night of violent clashes.
The clashes started in the early hours of Saturday between supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and security forces, leaving dozens killed.
“The moment I entered the hospital I could smell death everywhere,” Ismail Hasheesh, a young surgeon at the field hospital, told Ahram Online as he recalled the night of clashes.
Hasheesh has just ended his Friday shift when he received an emergency call.
“Corpses were everywhere in the hospital, and almost all the cases we got were in critical condition; some were already dead while others were gasping for their last breath,” he said, adding that very few were saved.
According to Hasheesh, most of the cases that arrived to the field hospital were persons shot with live ammunition that targeted the head or chest.
“These are shots aimed to kill, not to disperse,” he said, explaining that he is familiar with such situations as he volunteered in field hospitals during the Battle of the Camel in 2011 and at the Republican Guard Club clashes that took place 8 July, leaving at least 50 dead.
Hasheesh added that no official number of deaths has been issued; however, he asserted that at least 50 had been killed and thousands injured.
The Muslim Brotherhood claimed at least 120 people have been killed and 4,500 injured Saturday.
On Saturday afternoon, the health ministry reported 38 dead and 239 people injured.
The interior ministry held a press conference Saturday where they accused Muslim Brotherhood members of purposefully causing a crisis, in addition to denying that the police opened fire on pro-Brotherhood protesters. The ministry also claimed that clashes erupted after pro-Morsi supporters attempted to block 6 October Bridge and clashed with local residents.
Eyewitnesses accuse police
“For two hours we were faced with excessive teargas. We kept fainting and recovering...By 6am the police started firing live ammunition at us,” Badr El-Sehrawi, one of the eyewitnesses who came from the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya to demand the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, told Ahram Online.
El-Sehrawi says the police fired at protesters as they were “peacefully marching” on Al-Nasr Street against army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
“It was the police that was shooting us, but they had thugs on their side as well,” said El-Sehrawi as he tightly held a stick in his hands. He said the stick belonged to an old man who was shot dead next to him.
El-Sehrawi’s side of the story was echoed by several protesters at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in, who stressed that the police cooperated with thugs dressed in civilian clothes in an attack against them.
“We’re being punished and treated like animals for defending democracy. This is an oppressive and brutal regime,” said Tarek El-Sayed, another eyewitness.
The attack is leaving some protesters more determined to continue with their sit-in, despite fears of more violence.
“Even if he [El-Sisi] escalated and killed all Egyptians we will stand firm,” said El-Sayed.
“We believe in God. Our belief is stronger than all of these people ... El-Sisi and [interior minister] Mohamed Ibrahim,” said Ahmed El-Badri from Upper Egypt’s Qena.
El-Badri aded that the reinstatement of Morsi remains their ultimate goal, adding, “we’re all martyrs if he doesn’t return.”
“We’re not here for something wrong; I’m here for legitimacy and democracy, for the vote I gave,” said one of the protesters who referred to himself as “Egyptian,” refusing to give his name.
Fears of arbitrary arrest
While many supporters of the deposed president remain defiant, others say they remain at the sit-in because of fears of arbitrary arrest if they leave.
“There are definitely a number of protesters who are just scared that if they leave the sit-in they will be framed,” said Karim Mourad, one of the protesters.
According to Mourad, a friend of his named Hesham Abou El-Ela was arrested a few days ago along with a group of friends as they were taking an injured person from Rabaa Al-Adawiya to a hospital nearby.
His friends remain in detention on charges of espionage and attempted murder, Mourad said.
“Those detained are influencing the people at the sit-in who are scared if they leave the same will happen to them,” added Mourad, explaining to Ahram Online that for the past year he had been very critical of Morsi but decided to join the Rabaa protesters on 3 July after the president was removed in “a coup d’etat.”
“I wanted him to leave, but through early presidential elections, not by a coup,” he added.
For weeks, thousands of pro-Morsi protesters have been staging a sit-in near Rabaa Al-Adawiya 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 El-Sisi, aimed at providing the army and the police with "mandate to deal with violence and potential terrorism."
After one year in office, Morsi was ousted 3 July as part of the Egyptian armed forces' roadmap, enforced following unprecedented mass protests against the former elected president.