x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Morsi supporters 'massacred' during Cairo protest

The Muslim Brotherhood calls on Egyptians to take part in a new 'uprising' after at least 40 people are killed and more than 322 injured at a sit-in in Cairo.

Mohammed Morsi supporters carry the body of a fellow protester killed in clashes at the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
Mohammed Morsi supporters carry the body of a fellow protester killed in clashes at the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

CAIRO // The Muslim Brotherhood called on Egyptians to take part in a new "uprising" after at least 40 people were killed and more than 322 injured early this morning at a sit-in in Cairo.

Details of what was already being dubbed a "massacre" by supporters of deposed former president Mohammed Morsi were hazy this morning, but there was little doubt that it was the worst incident of violence against Egyptians since the 2011 uprising the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Gehad El Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood who witnessed the events, said on Twitter that the Republican Guard and police opened fire on the protesters as they were performing the Fajr prayer. Tear gas canisters were also fired into the crowds, he said.

He posted pictures of men seeking medical attention in the Rabaa Adaweya mosque, some of them with serious wounds. The Ministry of Health confirmed this morning that at least 40 people had died during the fighting.

The military later issued a statement saying that a "terrorist group" had launched an attack the Republican Guard headquarters, where many believe Mr Morsi is being held. The statement said that one officer and five pro-Morsi supporters were killed, according to the Associated Press.

The killings are expected to have a major impact on Egypt’s fragile political transition just four days after the president was removed from office through a popular coup.

Many Egyptians celebrated into the night after Mr Morsi was ousted, but the events of the last several days have made clear that the country faces huge hurdles in establishing a new government and bridging divides between Mr Morsi’s supporters and those who supported his removal from office.

The killing of pro-Morsi supporters this morning, on the eve of Ramadan, was seen as a deeply provocative act and will likely solidify resistance to the military-led coup from the Brotherhood and their Islamist allies.

In a statement this morning, the Brotherhood called on Egyptians to rise up against “those who want to steal their revolution with tanks and even the bodies of people”. The group also called on the international community to pressure the military to reverse its move against Mr Morsi to prevent Egypt from becoming "the new Syria".

The ultraconservative Al Nour party, the only Islamist group to support Mr Morsi’s ouster, said this morning that it was withdrawing from the transition plan in response to the “massacre”.

bhope@thenational.ae

* With reporting from Associated Press