Clashes Between Security Forces and Protestors Kills Hundreds

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 14 2013 10:47 PM

Death Toll in Egypt Continues to Rise After a Day of Violence

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CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 14: An injured supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is carried away from clashes on a stretcher during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on a pro-Morsi sit-in demonstration at the Rabaa al-Adweya Mosque in the Nasr City district on August 14, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.

Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images

The death toll continues to rise in Egypt after a day of violent clashes between state security forces and supporters of the country’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi. 

The violence started before dawn as security forces stormed protest camps occupied by Morsi supporters.  The New York Times described the raid as a “scorched-earth assault” that killed hundreds and signalled the Egyptian government’s increasing ferocity in its dealings with Islamist protestors

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More from the New York Times:

The attack, the third mass killing of Islamist demonstrators since the military ousted Mr. Morsi six weeks ago, followed a series of government threats. But the scale — lasting more than 12 hours, with armored vehicles, bulldozers, tear gas, birdshot, live ammunition and snipers — and the ferocity far exceeded the Interior Ministry’s promises of a gradual and measured dispersal.

At least one protester was incinerated in his tent. Many others were shot in the head or chest, including some who appeared to be in their early teens, including the 17-year-old daughter of a prominent Islamist leader, Mohamed el-Beltagy.

A Washington Post report described the scene this way:

The morning assault brought bulldozers crashing through protesters’ tents as security forces opened fire through clouds of smoke and tear gas. Witnesses later posted footage showing dozens of bodies lining the rooms of a makeshift hospital run by Morsi supporters outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

The Egyptian government said it arrested hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood after the assault.

The raid set off a round of reprisals from the Muslim Brotherhood, reports the New York Times.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the main Islamist group behind Mr. Morsi, reiterated its rejection of violence but called on Egyptians across the country to rise up in protest, and its supporters marched toward the camps to battle the police with rocks and firebombs.

According to Reuters, "Islamists staged revenge attacks on Christian targets in several areas, torching churches, homes and business after Coptic Pope Tawadros gave his blessing to the military takeover that ousted Mursi, security sources and state media said."

By nightfall, Egyptian president Adli Mansour had declared a national state of emergency, emboldening the country’s security forces and ushering the country back towards a state of martial law. Egyptian vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei, resigned in protest over the bloody crackdown.

Along with the 7 p.m. curfew imposed  in much of the country, banks were shuttered and portions of the country’s rail system shut down, according to the New York Times.  

Reports of the day's death toll have varied. At least 281 people were killed, according the Washington Post.  A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood told Reuters that 2,000 people died in the day's violence.  A health ministry official said some 300 people were killied and more than 2,000 injured in Cairo during the fighting, Reuters reports.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.