Hassan Ammar, Associated Press
CAIRO — Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, swept in Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps of supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites.
At least three members of the security forces were confirmed to have died in the morning's crackdown in Cairo, while the Health Ministry said nine protesters were killed and over 80 were injured.
The political arm of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood claimed that more than 500 protesters were killed and some 9,000 wounded in the two camps on opposite ends of the city, but there was no official confirmation of the Islamist group's figures. There was nothing in the footage provided by the Associated Press or local TV networks that suggests such a high death toll.
Mohammed el-Beltagy, a senior Brotherhood leader, put the death toll at more than 300 and called on the police and army troops to mutiny against their commanders and on Egyptians to take to the streets to show their disapproval of Wednesday's raids on the sit-ins.
"Oh, Egyptian people, your brothers are in the square ... Are you going to remain silent until the genocide is completed?" said el-Beltagy, who is wanted by authorities to answer allegations of inciting violence.
The smaller of the two camps was cleared of protesters by late morning, with most of them taking refuge in the nearby Orman botanical gardens, inside the sprawling campus of Cairo University and the zoo.
An AP reporter at the scene said security forces were chasing the protesters in the zoo.
Security forces have stormed the larger camp in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City and were closing in on a mosque that has served as the epicenter of vigil. Several leaders of Morsi's Brotherhood are thought to have been staying inside the mosque.
Wednesday's attacks on the two pro-Morsi camps are the latest chapter in the turmoil that has roiled Egypt since the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak and are likely to deepen the nation's division between the camp of Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood on one side, and secularists, liberals, moderate Muslims and minority Christians on the other.
One of the security officials said a total of 200 protesters were arrested from both sites on Wednesday.
The pro-Morsi Anti-Coup alliance claimed that security forces used live ammunition, but the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said its forces only used tear gas and that they came under fire from the camp.
"The world cannot sit back and watch while innocent men, women and children are being indiscriminately slaughtered. The world must stand up to the military junta's crime before it is too late," said a statement by the Brotherhood's media office in London emailed to the AP in Cairo.
Islam Tawfiq, a Brotherhood member at the Nasr city sit-in said the camp's medical center was filled with dead bodies and that the injured included children.
"No one can leave and those who do are either arrested or beaten up," he told the AP.
The Interior Ministry statement also warned that forces would deal firmly with protesters who were acting "irresponsibly," suggesting that it would respond in kind if its men are fired upon. It said it would guarantee safe passage to all who want to leave the Nasr City site but would arrest those wanted for questioning by prosecutors.
The security officials said train services between the north and south of the country have been suspended in a bid to prevent supporters of the ousted Morsi from travelling to Cairo to reinforce fellow Islamists. Clashes erupted on a major road in Cairo's upscale Mohandiseen district when poro-Morsi protesters opened fire on passing cars and pedestrians. Police used tear gas top chase them away.
- Two Christian ministers refuse to perform...
- Virus expert sees 'silver lining' in Ebola...
- Oscar Pistorius starts serving 5-year prison...
- Jodi Arias sentencing retrial opens in Arizona
- The poorest of the poor in many Third World...
- Indiana man's confession leads to 7 bodies
- Fire exposes illegal Chinese factories in Italy
- Today's must-read faith and family stories
- Two Christian ministers refuse to... 53
- New Ebola 'czar' knows Washington, but... 22
- Why I stand with the Houston Five 21
- On campaign trail, Obama says GOP is... 15
- Gay marriage becomes legal in Arizona,... 14
- Expelled Nazis got millions in Social... 10
- Bishops scrap welcome to gays in sign... 9
- At rallies, Obama casts 2014 as key for... 8