Death toll above three figures in Cairo as Muslim Brotherhood accuses security forces of shooting to kill
Egyptian security forces shot dead at least 100 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi early on Saturday, the Muslim Brotherhood said, deepening the turmoil which has convulsed Egypt for weeks.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said the shooting started shortly before pre-dawn morning prayers on the fringes of a round-the-clock vigil being staged by backers of Morsi, who was toppled by the army more than three weeks ago.
“They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill,” Haddad said, adding that the death toll might be much higher.
Al Jazeera’s Egypt television station reported that 120 had been killed and some 4,500 injured in the early morning violence near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawia mosque.
Reporters at the scene said firing could still be heard hours after the troubles started.
“I have been trying to make the youth withdraw for five hours. I can’t. They are saying they have paid with their blood and they do not want to retreat,” said Saad el-Hosseini, a senior Brotherhood politician.
“It is a first attempt to clear Rabaa al-Adawia,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from state authorities on what had happened.
The clashes started after police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Morsi supporters who tried to extend the sit-in in eastern Cairo.
Al Jazeera showed medics desperately trying to revive casualties arriving at a field hospital set up near the mosque.
El-Haddad said police started firing repeated rounds of tear-gas at protesters on a road close to the mosque sometime after 3am local time (2am BST). Shortly afterwards, live rounds started flying, hitting people at close range.
The bloodshed came the day after supporters and opponents of Morsi staged mass rival rallies across the country, bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets and laying bare deep divisions within the Arab world’s most populous country.
Well over 200 people have died in violence since the overthrow of Morsi, most of them Brotherhood supporters.