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224 injured so far at US embassy clashes in Cairo: Health ministry

Injury toll rises to 224 in ongoing skirmishes between protesters and Egyptian security forces near Cairo's US embassy

Ahram Online , Thursday 13 Sep 2012
Tahrir square
Head injury on Tahrir square following anti-islam film protest and clashes. (Photo: Bel Trew)

The Egyptian Ministry of Health affirmed that the total number of injuries has risen to 224, as street fights between protesters and security forces in the vicinity of the US embassy in Cairo continue into Thursday evening.

Ahmed El-Ansari, deputy head of the ambulance service, speaking to Middle East News Agency, confirmed that the majority of injuries were minor and were dealt with on site. Only eight cases, the health official added, had been transferred to hospital.

On the ground, at a makeshift medical centre on the corner of Tahrir Square and Qasr Al-Nile Bridge by the clashes, crisis team head Dr. Rami El-Nazar affirmed that they had received approximately 60 wounded protesters.

"We don't have a critical situation yet," El-Nazar told Ahram Online, as he coordinated the ambulance response, "what we are seeing is mostly asphyxiation from the tear gas and leg trauma from running."

At the time, El-Nazar's team was treating a protester in his twenties who had sustained a serious head injury during an exchange of rocks between the protesters and security forces. In front of the ambulances, protesters had set up a stall attending to the less severe tear gas injuries with homemade treatments.

"So far only four of the 60 have had to be hospitalised, the most critical was an ankle injury, otherwise we are treating everyone on site," El-Nazar continued, "the support here round the clock – we've got seven to eight doctors working in shifts."

The tear gas inhalation injuries, the doctor added, were fairly normal. In past demonstrations, protesters have reported people experiencing seizures during some tear gas attacks as well as expired gas canisters, possibly adding to its potency.

Ahram Online saw security forces using shotguns loaded with pellets, however, the majority of the injuries El-Nazar stated was from the gas.

An Interior Ministry source speaking to the Middle East News Agency, Wednesday afternoon, asserted 26 security personnel had been wounded in the ongoing clashes.  An Ahram Online reporter saw inert officers with head and leg injuries being carried by their colleagues to safety from the front line adjacent to the US Embassy.

El-Nazar said the fighting was not going to finish any time soon, adding he believed it could stretch through the night.

"The crisis team is waiting for our orders from the health ministry. Our job is to provide relief, so we will stay here for as long as it takes," he concluded.

Clashes erupted at the embassy late Wednesday between around 200 protesters and security forces. Rocks and teargas were launched between the two sides.

Protests began outside the embassy on Tuesday when thousands of people gathered to condemn an anti-Islam film that insults the Prophet Mohamed.

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