by By Samer al-Atrush
by By Samer al-Atrush
CAIRO, July 27, 2013 (AFP)
Dozens of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters were shot dead in the Egyptian capital on Saturday as violence erupted after a night of massive rallies for and against the ousted Islamist president.
An AFP correspondent counted at least 37 bodies at a makeshift mortuary in an Islamist-run field hospital, with doctors saying they were all killed by live rounds.
Essam Sultan, head of the health ministry’s emergency services, told AFP other hospitals had received 29 bodies of people killed in the clashes.
The bloodshed came hours after the military-backed interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim, warned a long-running sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque by Morsi loyalists would be ended “in the framework of the law”.
Sultan said his toll included only bodies that had reached morgues, and excluded the 37 at the Rabaa al-Adawiya field hospital at the mosque.
Medics began transferring bodies wrapped in white shrouds to hospitals by noon, carrying them on blood-soaked stretchers past a furious throng of Morsi supporters.
“Allahu akbar!” (God is greatest), chanted the crowd that formed a human corridor to the waiting ambulances.
Some wept and women ululated defiantly as each body was taken from the makeshift morgue in a marble-floored section of the mosque.
Medics at the field hospital said a total of 75 people were killed, including bodies taken elsewhere.
The army removed Morsi on July 3 after nationwide protests demanding his ouster.
Tens of thousands of defiant supporters from his Muslim Brotherhood movement have camped outside the mosque in the Nasr City district of Cairo ever since, in a bid to get him reinstated.
Doctors at the field hospital said at least 1,000 people were also wounded in clashes with police on the road to the international airport early on Saturday.
The health ministry said 177 people were wounded.
A Brotherhood leader, Murad Ali, told AFP that police had fired live rounds, but the official MENA news agency cited an unidentified security official as denying police used live bullets.
Running battles erupted at dawn on the airport road, with police firing tear gas at stone-throwing protesters, MENA said. Buckshot was fired, but it was unclear from which side.
Thousands of supporters and opponents of the coup also took to the streets of second city Alexandria, sparking fierce clashes that killed seven people and wounded 194.
The bloodshed came as interim interior minister Ibrahim said the military-backed government would move swiftly to break up the Islamist protest camp in Nasr City.
“There will be decisions from the prosecutor soon, and this situation will be ended,” he told satellite television channel Al-Hayat.
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who orchestrated the coup, had called for a mass show of support on Friday for a crackdown on “terrorism”.
Hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters obliged, thronging Cairo’s Tahrir Square and around the Ittihadiya presidential palace.
A spokesman for army-installed president Adly Mansour said the numbers “affirmed the rejection of terrorism”, MENA said.
But the Islamist Anti-Coup Coalition said Friday’s turnout by its supporters proved that those who took part “reject the bloody, military fascist coup that wants to set the wheel of history back”.
“We believe the next two days will be decisive in the history of Egypt,” the group said.
The violence came after the authorities charged Morsi with murder and formally remanded him in custody for 15 days. He had been held without charge since hours after his ouster.
Morsi stands accused of the “premeditated murder of some prisoners, officers and soldiers” when he broke out of prison during the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, MENA said.
He was also suspected of conspiring to “storm prisons and destroy them… allowing prisoners to escape, including himself”.
On June 23, a court said Hamas militants facilitated the escape of prisoners during the 18-day uprising against Mubarak.
The military has so far kept Morsi’s whereabouts secret to avoid attracting protests by his supporters.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country of 84 million people, has been rocked by violence that has killed some 200 people since the coup.
The army has said there will be no reneging on a roadmap to fresh elections next year.
But the Brotherhood and allied Islamist groups have rejected the interim government and vowed to protest until Morsi is reinstated.
Western governments are monitoring the crisis with growing unease, fearing the military may be angling for a prolonged power grab.
The United States has decided not to label the army’s overthrow of Morsi a “coup”, a move that would trigger an automatic freeze of some $1.5 billion (1.1 billion euros) in aid, a US official said.
Nevertheless Washington on Wednesday suspended the delivery of four promised F-16 fighter jets.
Egypt’s military is also facing a low-level insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel. Militant attacks there killed a civilian and wounded five soldiers on Friday.