Nationwide bloodshed in Egypt

Security forces crushed protest camps and killed almost 200 Morsi supporters across Egypt.

A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi throws a water container onto a fire during clashes with police in Cairo on 14 August 2013. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - Scores of people have been killed across Egypt during violent overnight clashes as supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi reacted angrily to the deadly police break-up of their protest camps, in what can be regarded as the worst nationwide bloodshed in decades.

Islamists clashed with police and troops who used bulldozers, teargas and live ammunition on Wednesday to clear out two Cairo sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque and Nahda Square that had become a hub for supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's resistance to the military after it deposed Morsi on 3 July.

Police have arrested key brotherhood members and taken control of the camps.

The resulting violence has left scores dead.

Government officials say more than 270 people have been killed. While, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood puts the number at around 2,200.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a news conference 43 members of the police force were killed in the clashes.

Three journalists are also among the dead.

This man was at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque.

"They came and gave us a five minute warning to clear the whole hostel. There are scores of dead people and injured people. Most of them are very serious cases."

The military-installed government declared a state of emergency in response to the violence and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Cairo and 10 other provinces.

In Cairo, police and soldiers aided by self-styled "popular committees" of civilian vigilantes armed with clubs and machetes enforced the curfew, searching cars and checking identity cards of people passing through makeshift checkpoints made of tires and concrete blocks.

Despite the lockdown, hundreds of Morsi supporters tried to gather at El Iman mosque in the Cairo neighbourhood of Nasr City in an attempt to start a new sit-in to replace the main camp dispersed at nearby Rabaa al-Adawiya square.

The protesters converted part of the mosque into a field hospital to tend to the wounded from the other sit-in.

Egyptian state television broadcast aerial footage of the burning remains of sprawling tent cities, as well as images of handmade guns it said were found at the sites. It also showed some video of alleged armed protesters shooting at police.


Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei has resigned in dismay at the use force instead of a negotiated end to the six-week stand-off.

"It has become difficult for me to continue bearing responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear. I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood."

Other liberals and technocrats in the interim government did not follow suit.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi spoke in a televised address of a "difficult day for Egypt" but said the government had no choice but to order the crackdown to prevent anarchy spreading.

"We found that matters had reached a point that no self-respecting state could accept."

The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and fellow Muslim power Turkey have condemned the violence and called for the lifting of the state of emergency and an inclusive political solution to Egypt's crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the bloodshed "deplorable".

An EU envoy involved in mediation efforts that collapsed last week, said the authorities had rejected a plan for staged confidence-building measures that could have led to a political solution.

The Brotherhood publicly rejected any plan that did not involve Morsi's restoration to office.

An Egyptian military source said the army did not believe the Islamists would eventually agree to a deal and felt they were only stringing the diplomats along to gain time.