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Hundreds hiding in Al-Fateh mosque after yet more killings

February 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm


The whir of helicopters died away after midnight but the conflict continued as police laid siege to al-Fateh Mosque in Ramsis Square, where around 700 people are still hiding.

Please note that since writing this report, the Egyptian authorities have raided the mosque, at around 11.30am(GMT) on the 17th August

Anti-Coup protesters at Ramses SquareEXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

The whir of helicopters died away after midnight but the conflict continued as police laid siege to al-Fateh Mosque in Ramsis Square, where around 700 people are still hiding.

Just before 3am the police and plain-clothed men attempted to storm the mosque, firing tear gas inside and pulling at furniture piled between the doors. Five hours later the standoff continued as some protestors are still inside, some chanting ‘Allah u Akbar’.

The Anti-Coup Alliance announced, via twitter, that those inside were preparing for the worst, “calling their families to say goodbye fearing an imminent death”.

Information from security services indicated that they saw those in the mosque as breaking the emergency measures curfew, in place between 7pm and 6am, and were also concerned about the possibility of a new sit-in developing at the mosque.

The marches will continue too. The Muslim Brotherhood-led Islamist coalition, National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, said on Friday evening that it would hold similar marches every day for the next week, beginning at the same points as those on Friday.

The death toll of those killed in clashes between police, civilian vigilantes and Muslim Brotherhood protestors varied hugely, with the Ministry of Health claiming 27, newswire AFP counting 80, based on reports from correspondents, officials and witnesses, and the Brotherhood’s estimate totalling 213.

The tallying of the dead is now even more difficult as the Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday it would no longer be releasing death tolls, with all future statements coming from the Cabinet instead.

While the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Day of Rage’ organised 28 marches to provocatively converge on the heart of Cairo, the events at Ramses Square began peacefully.

People swarmed around the open space, singing and dancing in the heat as eddies of protestors threw their hands in the air making the area look like a giant, colourful sea of movement.

A military helicopter repeatedly buzzed overhead, drawing cries of “go away” and “you are killers”. One man waved his shoe angrily in the air at the aircraft.

Lawyer, Nasser Atlee, 38, said he was protesting because he was appalled by the number of people killed by the army on Wednesday and was sure that a show of popular opposition would work this time, “Sisi is one person, these are people. People will win.”

But just before 2.30pm shots rang out from near the Azbakeya police station and shortly afterwards tear gas was fired onto the October 6th bridge.

Protestors cut branches from trees to burn and set rubbish alight to alleviate side-effects from the gas, and the now-familiar line of ‘ambulance’ motorcycles rushed back and forth between the front line and the al-Tawheed mosque to the north.

By 4pm, 11 bodies had been laid out in the upstairs morgue of the mosque and in the al-Fateh mosque in Ramsis square itself 12 other bodies lay, all victims of shots to the head and chest.

Street fighting also broke out in other areas of Cairo. Sporadic shooting rang out across Garden City during the afternoon as pro-Morsi and pro-government forces clashed. Police roadblocks trapped hundreds of people on the October 6th bridge and the May 15 bridge and video footage showed some people jumping several stories to the road below to avoid tear gas and bullets.

Throughout the city unofficial roadblocks were stopping traffic as civilians wielding rusty hand guns, machetes and heavy sticks searched vehicles.

MEMO Photographer: Rachel Williamson

Photos from Ramses square and the field hospital at Taweed Mosque, just north of the square, 16th August 2013
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