Egypt's Death Toll Rises To 525

10:06 AM, Aug 15, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Egyptian military vehicles block a road leading to the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo as Egyptian police try to disperse supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi on August 14, 2013. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said at least 250 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in a police crackdown on two major protest camps held by supporters of Morsi. AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES / KHALED DESOUKI

CAIRO - Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi called for a protest march in Cairo on Thursday after government assaults on two protests camps sparked conflict nationwide, killing hundreds of people.

At least 525 people were killed across the country Wednesday including 43 police, the Health Ministry said. Most of the deaths occurred after security forces advanced on two pro-Morsi sit-ins in the capital. More than 3,700 people were wounded, the ministry said.

READ MORE: How Egypt Impacts You: 5 Things To Know

Banks and the stock exchange on Thursday were closed and museums and archaeological sites are sealed indefinitely, the government said. Much of the nation is living under a one-month state of emergency with overnight curfews. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo was shut to the public and consular services were suspended.

Meanwhile, the interim government formed after Morsi's ouster by the military July 3 is coming unhinged.

Sources told Ahram Online, a local news publication, that deputy prime ministers Ziad Bahaa El-Din and Hossam Eissa will submit their resignations. On Wednesday, interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned from his post, saying he disagreed with the assaults.

Tamarod, the youth group behind the mass anti-Morsi protests that preceded the coup, said ElBaradei was dodging his responsibility at a time when his services were needed.

Most of the deaths were at two sit-ins that Morsi supporters had been holding onto for days to demand his reinstatement but many deaths happened outside the capital where members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood were accused of attacking opponents. Christian churches were also attacked and burned.

Near the site of one of the smashed encampments in the eastern Nasr City district were dozens of blood soaked bodies stored inside a mosque. The bodies were wrapped in sheets and still unclaimed by families.

Relatives at the scene were uncovering the faces in an attempt to identify their loved ones.

Victims' names were scribbled on white sheets covering their bodies, some of which were charred. Posters of Morsi were scattered on the floor.

Security forces had cleared the two protest camps positioned on opposite sides of town, firing tear gas, using live ammunition and tearing down posters and tents in operations that started early Wednesday.

Protesters at the Nahda Square sit-in outside Cairo University were dispersed well before midday. But clashes between security and protesters outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque continued until dusk as the site went up in flames.

After weeks of political stalemate between the military-backed government and the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, the violence may have crushed any prospects of mediation between Morsi's opponents and supporters.

"There was a slight glimmer of hope for some mediation process or negotiation before yesterday's events," said Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center. "All of that is pretty much mute at this point."

A pro-Morsi alliance called on Egyptians to join mourning prayers in mid afternoon at the Al-Iman mosque in Cairo's Nasr City. The Brotherhood, which propelled Morsi to power, planned for a march from the mosque to protest, according to a statement.

The only real option for Morsi supporters is to stage more protests to put pressure on the government, Hamid said. If the Brotherhood stops protesting repression would continue and the military would move to dismantle the organization, he said.

Since the military ousted Morsi, Brotherhood leaders have been arrested and their assets frozen. The Interior Ministry, which supervises the police, said 200 protesters, many from the Muslim Brotherhood, are under arrest for the protests.

A mass police funeral - with caskets draped in the white, red and black Egyptian flag - was held in Cairo for some of the 43 security troops killed in Wednesday's clashes.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim led the mourners. A police band played funerary music as a somber funeral procession moved with the coffins placed atop red fire engines.

Cairo, a city of 18 million people, was uncharacteristically quiet Thursday, with only a fraction of its usually hectic traffic and many stores and government offices shuttered. Many people hunkered down at home for fear of more violence.

The latest events in Egypt drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West, including the United States, Egypt's main foreign backer for over 30 years. Some Egyptians said though that the growing protest camps had to be removed. The leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood called it a "massacre."

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a televised address to the nation that it was a "difficult day" and that he regretted the bloodshed but offered no apologies for moving against Morsi's supporters, saying they were given ample warnings to leave and he had tried foreign mediation efforts.

Backed by helicopters, police fired tear gas and used armored bulldozers to plow into the barricades at the two protest camps on opposite ends of Cairo. Morsi's supporters had been camped out since before he was ousted by the military, which acted after mass protests by millions of Egyptians demanding that Morsi step down.

The protesters then accused Morsi of acting as a dictator, and focusing more on trying to foce more Islamist laws on Egypt than improving an awful economy.

The smaller camp - near Cairo University in Giza - was cleared of protesters relatively quickly, but it took about 12 hours for police to take control of the main sit-in site near the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City that has served as the epicenter of the pro-Morsi campaign and had drawn chanting throngs of men, women and children only days earlier.

After the police moved on the camps, street battles broke out in Cairo and other cities across Egypt. Government buildings and police stations were attacked, roads were blocked, and Christian churches were torched, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said.

At one point, protesters trapped a police Humvee on an overpass near the Nasr City camp and pushed it off, according to images posted on social networking sites that showed an injured policeman on the ground below, near a pool of blood and the overturned vehicle.

Morsi has been under house arrests at an undisclosed location. Other Brotherhood leaders have been charged with inciting violence or conspiring in the killing of protesters.

In his televised address, el-Beblawi said the government could not indefinitely tolerate a challenge to authority that the 6-week-old protests represented.

"We want to see a civilian state in Egypt, not a military state and not a religious state," he said.

Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the powerful head of Al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam's main seat of learning, also sought to distance himself from the violence. He said in a statement he had no prior knowledge of the action.

Most Watched Videos