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Egyptian security forces raid pro-Morsi camps in Cairo, while violence across country leaves nearly 100 dead
Clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters across Egypt have left nearly 100 dead and hundreds injured Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said, while police in riot gear and armored vehicles bulldozed two protest camps in Cairo.
Hamdi Abdel Karim, an Egypt Health Ministry spokesman, told Reuters that 95 people were killed and 874 were injured in the violence.
Khaled el-Khateeb, an Egyptian Health Ministry official, earlier told the Associated Press that at least 28 people were killed in Cairo, 25 in Minya province south of the capital and one each in the cities of Alexandria, Assiut and Ban Suef. Sky News cameraman Mick Deane and Gulf News reporter Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz were among the dead.
The violence prompted Egypt’s Interim President, Adly Mansour, to declare a monthlong state of emergency, ordering the armed forces to support the police in efforts to restore law and order and protect state facilities.
The camps that were cleared Wednesday in Cairo had been the catalyst of protests since former President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the Egypt’s military on July 3, with thousands calling for his reinstatement.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, which backs Morsi, claimed that more than 500 protesters were killed and some 9,000 wounded in the two camps, but those figures could not be confirmed and nothing in Associated Press footage or local TV networks suggested such a high death toll.
Army troops did not take part in the two Cairo operations, but provided security. Police and army helicopters hovered over both sites as plumes of smoke rose over the city skyline hours after the police launched the simultaneous actions shortly after 7 a.m. local time.
“At 7 a.m. they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children,” Saleh Abdulaziz, a 39-year-old teacher, told Reuters.”They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop.”
A Reuters correspondent said pools of blood were everywhere, with dozens of people lying in the street after suffering bullet and birdshot wounds.
The smaller of the two camps was cleared of protesters by late morning, with most of them taking refuge in the nearby Orman botanical gardens, inside the sprawling campus of Cairo University and the zoo.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said security forces were chasing the protesters inside the zoo. At one point, a dozen protesters, mostly men with beards wearing traditional Islamist garb, were seen handcuffed and sitting on a sidewalk under guard outside the university campus. The private ONTV network showed firearms and rounds of ammunition allegedly seized from protesters there.
Security forces later stormed the larger camp in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City.
An Associated Press television video journalist there said he could hear the screams of women as a cloud of white smoke hung over the protest encampment. He said a bulldozer was removing mounds of sand bags and brick walls built earlier by the protesters as a defense line in their camp.