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A deadly massacre on the eve of Ramadan

January 23, 2014 at 4:31 am

This morning army and police officers opened fire on pro-Morsi supporters as they prayed outside the Republican Headquarters in Cairo.

The demonstrators were staging a peaceful sit-in outside the building where their now overthrown leader is said to be held; they want Morsi to be reinstated before they leave.

At least 42 were killed and more than 500 injured in the massacre today, the bodies of the dead lying draped in Egyptian flags in an improvised hospital in Nasr City.

“It was the worst three hours I have ever witnessed” said the manager of the field hospital in a recent press conference. He described blood everywhere, with people shot in the head, neck and chest, and a lack of medicine and bandages to treat the wounded.

The military insists that terrorists tried to break into the Republican Guard facility, and that they were defending themselves. Two of their officers have been killed and military checkpoints put in place around Nasr City.

The massacre is a chilling reminder of the days leading up to Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 when those loyal to the now ousted President charged opposition protestors in Tahrir Square on horses and camels.

The attack led to a 48-hour battle in which the two sides threw stones, bricks and firebombs at each other. Eventually Mubarak’s supporters left.

Though the attack was designed to crush the revolution, it is largely seen as a turning point in which those who had been unsure of protesting took to the streets; the numbers in Tahrir swelled and 9 days later Mubarak was gone.

Much like the camel incident, the shooting at the Republican Guard was in part designed to scare the protestors into leaving yet could actually increase support for the pro-Morsi camp.

There is no doubt that this has increased tension on the streets.

The Salafist Nour Party have pulled out of discussions about the implementation of the Road Map for the future of Egypt, and the nomination of an interim Prime Minister in protest against the shootings.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.