Egyptian Armed Forces Spokesman Ahmed Ali (Photo: AP)
Egyptian armed forces spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali stated on Tuesday that military forces did not fire directly at protesters during clashes in the Upper Egyptian city of Beni Suef.
Two protesters, reportedly supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, were shot dead on Monday evening as clashes broke out between Islamist protesters and armed forces that attempted to disperse the rally.
Ali said that protesters attacked a military patrol, prompting forces to "shoot fire in the air to disperse them," adding that the army did not "aim at any protesters directly."
"The hospital received four protesters who had been injured with live fire and birdshot. Two of them died upon reaching hospital," he said, adding that the armed forces "do not use birdshot."
Ali added that the incident took place during an "armed fight" among residents in Al-Abasiry area of the city.
However, an eyewitness told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that hundreds of Morsi supporters had gathered in front of a mosque to begin a pro-Morsi march when a passing military patrol attempted to disperse the crowd, leading to violent clashes.
Medical sources said that the two slain protesters had sustained gunshot wounds and that two out of eight others, who are all suffering from bullet wounds, are in critical condition.
In his statement, Ali mentioned that an investigative committee has been asked to look into the incident.
Egypt is currently under a state of emergency that was introduced as violence broke out nationwide following a deadly crackdown on Islamist pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo by security forces. This was accompanied by a curfew in 14 governorates, which is still being implemented, but from a later time of 9pm until 6am daily, as levels of violence have been reduced in recent days.
The army has been deployed onto the streets at regular security checkpoints to enforce the curfew.