A Health Ministry spokeswoman said 51 people were killed and 435 were wounded in the shootings. Military officials said that they responded after being fired upon by protesters and that one soldier was killed and 42 were injured.
Interim President Adly Mansour issued a decree late Monday that set the parameters for a referendum on a revised constitution within about 41
2 months, parliamentary elections within about six months and presidential elections after that.
The measures appeared aimed at lending some stability to a situation that threatened to spiral out of control. But a prime ministerial appointment that had been expected Monday never came, and the day was consumed with news of the violence and an immediate debate about its causes and meaning. Both the military establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood pleaded their cases to the Egyptian people, each swearing it was the innocent victim.
Islamist witnesses, including many members of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the shootings started unprovoked as protesters were reciting dawn prayers in front of Cairo’s Republican Guard headquarters.
Security officials said members of the pro-Morsi camp attacked first.
“We did not attack protesters; we were rather defending a military facility,” said Ahmed Ali, a spokesman for the military. “They moved on us to provoke our soldiers and create this violent scene.”
Regardless of who fired the first shots, the violence shocked Egyptians and threw the nation’s shaky post-coup order into further disarray, as important factions pulled out of the coalition that lent broad unity to the effort to oust Morsi, who led the country for 368 days.
The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, the only Islamist political bloc to support Morsi’s ouster, said it would abandon negotiations over who should take over as prime minister to protest what it called a “massacre.”
Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic authority, had expressed support for Morsi’s ouster. But Monday, he appeared on state television and said he would remain in seclusion at his home “until everybody takes responsibility to stop the bloodshed, to prevent the country from being dragged into a civil war.”
Another Islamist, former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who had met with Mansour two days ago, called for him to resign after the violence.