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Amnesty International slammed Egyptian security and army forces for their failure to end clashes between protesters and unidentified armed men on Wednesday that claimed the lives of at least 11 people.
In a Wednesday statement, Amnesty renewed its call for the Egyptian military to protect protesters amid increasing violence ahead of the presidential election.
“The Egyptian army and security forces initially did little to stop the clashes, which happened in the neighborhood of Abbasseya,” read the statement. “The clashes only stopped at around 1 pm after army troops, including armored vehicles, and heavily armed riot police arrived at the scene.”
“The army's intervention has come hours too late," Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, was quoted as saying in the statement.
"There appears to be no will within Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to prevent these tragic events. After the weekend attack, the authorities should have been prepared for the violence," Luther said.
Early on Wednesday morning, groups of armed individuals clashed with protesters who had been staging a sit-in since Friday evening near the Defense Ministry in the Abbasseya neighborhood of Cairo. The Health Ministry said Wednesday that nine people were killed, with unofficial reports varying from 11 to 20.
On Wednesday, the army said it is not responsible for the killing of protesters, stressing that it would never violently break up a sit-in.
“The armed forces have over the last week endured what they cannot tolerate in terms of insults and attacks from demonstrators in front of the Defense Ministry," a statement on the military council’s official Facebook page read.
The SCAF said it would hold a press conference Thursday to comment on the Abbasseya events. The press conference is also set to tackle recent political developments, according to the state-run news agency MENA.