Update: 210 injured in Moqattam clashes

Update: 210 injured in Moqattam clashes

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Fri, 22/03/2013 - 19:21

Clashes slowed down on Friday in Moqattam after a day of fighting between protesters and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood near the latter's headquarters. 

Until the evening, security forces have been firing a barrage of tear gas at protesters around the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters to force them to disperse.

Earlier in the day, Socialist Popular Alliance Party leader and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali was wounded clashes and transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment, witnesses reported.

The Ambulance Authority said 210 have been injured so far in Friday's violence. According to authority head Mohamed Sultan, no deaths have been reported.

As clashes spread throughout Moqattam early Friday evening, an Egypt Independent reporter witnessed armed men atop surrounding rooftops firing what were reported to be live rounds of ammunition, although this is unconfirmed. Al-Masry Al-Youm also quoted eyewitnesses reporting sounds of live fire from a building adjacent to the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters. The sources claimed protesters were collecting the empty shells from the rounds of ammunition.

The reporter added that after hurling stones into the crowd, the Brotherhood members sought shelter in the Moqattam Mosque. Protesters seized one Brotherhood member and beat him. When an ambulance arrived at the scene, the protesters attacked the vehicle.

Elsewhere in Moqattam, anonymous gunmen reportedly fired birdshot onto protesters demonstrating in Nafoura Square, injuring at least five. Dozens more were injured when Muslim Brotherhood members hurled stones into the crowd.

Ambulances rushed to the scene to transport the injured to the nearby Moqattam Hospital, as protesters also carried the wounded on their motorcycles to seek medical treatment.

In Manial, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that after storming the Muslim Brotherhood offices there, protesters smashed desks and then fled the scene. The paper reported that a crowd of 300 had attacked the building during a march to Moqattam, and attempted to set the building ablaze before abandoning the scene.

In the late afternoon, protesters and security forces clashed in front of the Guidance Bureau building as Brotherhood Youth stationed there played informal football matches.

The number of Brotherhood members present at the scene has increased steadily throughout the afternoon, as has the number of protesters and security forces. A march of hundreds of opposition forces arrived from the Sayed Aisha neighborhood in the late afternoon to join the protest.

Moqattam residents reportedly formed popular committees, such as those assembeled during the 18 days of January 2011 in the absence of security forces, to prevent dozens of buses transporting members of the Muslim Brotherhood from entering the area.

The group’s members have been descending on the neighborhood since late Thursday to defend its headquarters. On Friday afternoon, fighting broke out between Brotherhood members and the popular committees. The buses headed to nearby metro stations to allow their passengers to reach their destination.

Near the headquarters, Central Security Forces began firing tear gas to break up clashes between opposition protesters and Brotherhood members. Security forces have continued to intensify their presence in the area throughout the day.

Fist fights between opposition protesters and Muslim Brotherhood began early Friday afternoon in Moqattam. Minor scuffles escalated into stone throwing exchanges.

An Egypt Independent reporter  in Moqattam witnessed protesters hurling stones at any cars they suspected belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. The witness also reported that two men with their faces covered ran to the frontline of the police forces, and hurled two Molotov cocktails at them. The police responded by firing shots into the air, dispersing the protesters.

Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that residents of nearby buildings were coming to the defense of the protesters, throwing stones at Brotherhood members.

Groups of Islamists were reportedly deployed in the adjacent streets to secure the headquarters.

Several marches to Moqattam began earlier in the day, including from nearby Nafoura Square, and another from Sayeda Aisha Square. Demonstrators were chanting slogans against Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie.

An early round of scuffles broke out between Muslim Brotherhood youth and dozens of opposition activists in the late morning. Hit-and-run operations were carried out by both groups in the streets surrounding the headquarters.

Tensions turned violent as the young activists chanted "Oh Badie, sell the revolution," and "Brothers are a herd following Badie," to which Brotherhood members responded by chanting, "No to secularism, Egypt our country is Islamic," and "Banna said a long time ago: Brothers are everywhere."

Hassan al-Banna is the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Central Security Forces intervened to separate the two sides.

Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters had flocked to the area to defend the building during today's protests from Thursday night into Friday morning.

 

The demonstrations condemn assaults against political activists and journalists during last week's protests in front of the Brotherhood headquarters.

 

Islamists gathered in front of the Guidance Bureau, holding black flags bearing the words, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohamed is the messenger of God.”

Flag sellers swarmed the area, carrying national flags as well as white flags with religious statements, green flags bearing the slogan of the Freedom and Justice Party and photos of President Mohamed Morsy.

Twenty political parties and 30 public figures called for Friday’s protests, which demand early presidential elections in September that would be conducted under full international supervision; the prosecutor general’s dismissal; the formation of a national salvation government; the suspension of the new Constitution and a temporary return to the 1971 Constitution; and the formation of a new Constituent Assembly to draft yet another constitution to be put to national referendum.

On Thursday, the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guidance Bureau asked members from the governorates to come to Cairo to help secure the main headquarters, fearing attacks from the opposition.

Hundreds of members headed to Moqattam with their luggage, intending to spend the night there to confront the protesters.

One of the members told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Thursday that they had been instructed to sacrifice anything to defend their properties.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the member said they would use sticks to defend themselves, but denied any of the Brothers possessed weapons.

Edited translation from MENA and Al-Masry Al-Youm