Fierce clashes erupted across Egypt on Friday as thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets in the aftermath of government raids on pro-Morsi protest camps that left hundreds dead. Our correspondents Abigail Hauslohner and Liz Sly are reporting from Cairo. Read our report here.
Below, a video posted by Egyptian news Website El Badil shows protesters running away amid heavy gunfire on a street in Giza.
Here is a summary of headlines from some of the day’s major developments.
- Fierce clashes erupted across the country on Friday as thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets in the aftermath of government raids on pro-Morsi protest camps that left hundreds dead. According to the latest report from Associated Press, the death toll from Friday’s clashes had reached at least 60.
- Throughout the day, the army is said to be have placed tanks around Tahrir Square, blocking all entrances to prevent Brotherhood supporters from gathering there. The Interior Ministry called on all Egyptians to avoid Galaa Square, Ramses Square and the Nile Corniche to allow it to “combat terrorism.”
- In a brief statement read by a television presenter, Saudi King Abdullah said that his country stands in full support of Egypt against “terrorism” and accused “outsiders” of trying to destabilize the country by intervening.
- The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the military’s decision to storm the pro-Morsi sit-ins on Wednesday, saying, “the Government has no option or alternative…”
- Videos posted online on Friday showed men armed with guns shooting as they walked among protesters on the May 15 bridge and outside the Four Seasons Hotel.
- The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asked the organization’s member countries on Friday to consider “appropriate measures” in reaction to violence in Egypt. Senior EU diplomats are scheduled to meet on Monday.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has asked the organization’s member countries on Friday to consider “appropriate measures” in reaction to violence in Egypt, according to Reuters. ”I have been in constant touch with European Union foreign ministers, and I have asked member state representatives to debate and coordinate appropriate measures to be taken,”she said in a statement.
Hollande also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. The two men called for an end to violence in Egypt and a return to national dialogue and elections, a statement from Hollande’s office read.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to express his concern.
“They agreed on the need for the EU to send a strong and united message that the violence must end and that there should be transition to a genuine democracy, which would require compromise from all sides,” Cameron’s office said.
Senior diplomats from the European Union are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Monday to decide on any action that the organization will take.
There has not been any statement from the White House on today’s incidents. On Thursday, President Obama said the United States would cancel the biennial joint military training exercise with Egypt, while leaving more than $1 billion in annual military aid in place.
I can see 4 bodies and many bad gunshot wounds.
— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) August 16, 2013
Earlier today, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen was at a mosque near Ramses Square which had been turned into a makeshift morgue, where several injured people were being brought in and those killed were being taken away for burial. According to Bowen, “so many bodies have been brought in that doctors have had to send out for more cotton to wrap them in.”
A video posted on YouTube by Abdullah Shousha shows a group of protesters who are shouting “Peaceful!” with their arms up in the air coming under gunfire from security forces in the town of Ismailiya. David Clinch, the executive editor of Storyful, said that his team had verified that the video was from Ismailiya from earlier today.
Earlier today, the BBC confirmed that four people have been killed in Ismailiya during clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi supporters. However, it is not clear if the report is referring to the video above.
4 people killed in Ismailiya in clashes between Egypt security forces & Morsi supporters http://t.co/jtenVFm7iR
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 16, 2013
How massacres are made in Egypt: army/police sees 1 or 2 or 3 armed people among 1000s of unarmed, they then go on a killing spree.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) August 16, 2013
Egypt’s popular pseudonymous blogger The Big Pharoah has posted a Q&A-style blog post on his Web site, in which he argues that clearing the pro-Morsi sit-ins on Wednesday was a mistake and the interim government should have left the protesters there alone and “allowed them to wither by themselves.”
His prediction for what’s next? “This country will not see any democracy until a viable alternative to the army and the Islamists is found,” he writes.
Two important questions he answers in his post, highlighted below:
Was June 30 a mistake?
You cannot label the largest demonstrations in the history of Egypt as a “mistake” nor can you claim that it was the right thing to happen. June 30 was inevitable, it was understandable and Morsi could have saved us all from this bloodshed if he heeded to the millions who demanded his resignation, throngs that far outnumbered any MB rally I’ve seen since Mubarak’s demise.
Personally, I was in favor that Morsi completes his term and I believe one year was not enough for the general public to see the true colors of the MB. However I fully understand the reasons behind June 30 and why millions of Egyptians saw in the army as the only state institution capable of rescuing the country from a ruling organization that lost a huge part of its popular support.
The massacre did not happen because the army is now in control, bloodshed has been the norm in Egypt since the 2011 revolution. Bloodshed also happened under Morsi, the police committed a massacre in Port Said that claimed the lives of 52 people. Back then the MB and their followers were justifying the police’s actions because their man was president.
What should happen to the MB?
I am a great proponent of including the MB in the political process but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. One of the main reasons why the MB fell was the fact that they tried to run the country exclusively. This is not possible in post-revolution Egypt. Their vanity killed them. And this could happen to anyone who decides to rule like the MB.
The MB should be included in the political process. And the MB should understand that Egypt is far big to be considered a branch in their transnational organization. Unfortunately, this won’t be happening anytime soon.
Cairo-based photojournalist and blogger Mosa’ab ElShamy posted this photograph, which in itself tells a lot about events during the last three days in Egypt.
What we’ve become. pic.twitter.com/kbAmyvhgML
— Mosa’ab Elshamy (@mosaaberizing) August 16, 2013
According to the Associated Press, Egyptian security officials have said the death toll in clashes across the country on Friday has reached at least 60.
BREAKING: Egyptian security officials say death toll in clashes across country rises to at least 60.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 16, 2013
Earlier, Reuters cited a security official who said at least 24 police officers had been killed since late last night.
On Thursday, the total number of deaths from Wednesday’s violence was said to have reached 638, which marked the deadliest day in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have released a joint statement on Egypt sharply criticizing the interim government’s actions. The two senators visited Egypt just a week before the crackdown on pro-Morsi sit-ins to urge the military and Islamists to reconcile and avoid violence.
“The massacre of civilians this week in Egypt has brought our longstanding relationship with that country to a fork in the road. The interim civilian government and security forces – backed up, unfortunately, by the military – are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them,” the statement says.
More from Sen. McCain’s Web site, where the statement was posted:
“We condemn all acts and incitement of violence against civilians, including those that supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi have committed against Christians and other Egyptians. At the same time, we cannot be complicit in the mass slaughter of civilians. It is neither in our long-term national interest nor consistent with our values and laws to continue providing assistance at this time to Egypt’s interim government and military. We urge the Obama Administration to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests.
“This week’s horrific violence has only made the difficult goal of national reconciliation in Egypt even harder to achieve, but there is no decent or effective alternative to that process. Egyptians bear the responsibility for recent events in their country, and for its future. It is clear that most Egyptians do not want a radical Islamist government or a return to military rule. There are steps that all sides can take to save Egypt from a future of protracted instability and stagnation, but Egyptians must make these choices themselves.
“U.S. influence over events in Egypt, and the Middle East more broadly, has always been limited, but it is still considerable. Whether it is Egypt, Syria, Iraq, or the wider region, the failure of the Obama Administration to use our influence to shape events in this critical part of the world has only diminished our credibility, limited our influence, and constrained our policy options. The events now unfolding in Egypt and the Middle East will directly impact the national security interests of the United States, and we cannot remain disengaged.”
A video posted by El Badil TV on YouTube shows intense clashes outside the Four Seasons Hotel, which is on the Nile Corniche. The footage shows armed men with their faces covered shooting amid the sounds of heavy gunfire.
There had been reports on Twitter about pro-Morsi supporters attacking the luxury hotel.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 16, 2013
Does anyone think the partially-Saudi-owned-Four Seasons was attacked because the Saudi king weighed in on #Egypt unrest in favor of Govt?
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) August 16, 2013
— Raphael Gluck ツ (@einfal) August 16, 2013
The military-enforced curfew has begun in Cairo for Friday.
Curfew is now in force again in Egypt.
— Bethany Bell (@BethanyBellBB) August 16, 2013
Interior Ministry calls on citizens to abide by curfew by staying home, not congregating in squares, so it can deal with “terrorist acts”
— Mada Masr (@MadaMasr) August 16, 2013