Egypt faces new uncertainty
15 August 2013, 13:07
Cairo - Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday
after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with nearly 327 people
reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of
supporters of the deposed Islamist president.
Wednesday's raids touched off day-long street violence that
prompted the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and
curfew, and drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West,
including the United States.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as
Egypt's interim vice president in protest — a blow to the new leadership's
credibility with the pro-reform movement.
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 the supporters of ousted
President Mohammed Morsi, saying they were given ample warnings to leave and he
had tried foreign mediation efforts.
The leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood called it a
"massacre". Several of them were detained as police swept through the
two sit-in sites, scores of other Islamists were taken into custody, and the
future of the once-banned movement was uncertain.
Backed by helicopters, police fired tear gas and used armoured
bulldozers to plough into the barricades at the two protest camps in different
sections of Cairo where the Morsi supporters had been camped since before he
was ousted by the military 3 July.
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.
The Health Ministry said 235 civilians were killed and more
than 2 000 injured, while Ibrahim said 43 policemen died in the violence. The
death toll was expected to rise.