Egypt’s interim Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, has denied that Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested during the bloody crackdown on the pro-Morsi protests in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya and Al-Nahda Squares. He reiterated his intention to detain them, though.
“We detained protesters from both squares,” he told a press conference, “but none of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been arrested yet, but I hope that we do arrest them.” He said that the regime will not allow any more protests in the country.
Asked about how the authorities’ crackdown started, Ibrahim replied: “When we felt that there was clear obstinacy and damage to the life of people and torturing and killing them, we got permission from the National Defence Council to disperse the protests. We called on the protesters via megaphones asking them to leave through the secure exits.”
The police, he claimed, were “surprised” when they approached the sit-ins and “the protesters fired at them from behind fortification that everyone has seen on TV”. It was at that point, claimed the minister, that the police started to fire live and steel-coated “plastic” bullets. “The police had the utmost self-control and succeeded professionally to disperse the protests with the fewest number of casualties.”
Ibrahim said that the police seized ten automatic weapons, 29 guns for “plastic” bullets, 9,922 bullets, six hand grenades and 55 Molotov cocktail bottles. He accused Brotherhood leaders of sponsoring the current violence against public buildings. “Muslim Brotherhood leaders issued orders to target police and religious buildings in order to create a state of chaos in the country,” he alleged. “This resulted in the death of 43 police staff, including 18 officers.”
The number of casualties across the country on Wednesday was quoted as 278 dead, including the 43 security staff, and 2,000 wounded. These figures have risen considerably since the press conference.
Meanwhile, interim president Adly Mansour announced a state of emergency in Egypt for one month starting yesterday at 4pm. His ministerial council also announced a daily curfew in 14 governorates from 5pm to 7am. Under the state of emergency, people can be detained, and cars and homes can be inspected without judicial warrants.