Fires smoldered and running street battles were reported Wednesday after Egyptian riot police swarmed two Cairo encampments where protesters were demonstrating against the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.
According to The New York Times, Egyptian security officers stormed the two encampments packed with supporters of Morsi in a scorched-earth assault that killed hundreds, set off a violent backlash across the nation and underscored the new government’s determination to crush the Islamists who dominated two years of free elections.
“The attack, the third mass killing of Islamist demonstrators since the military ousted Mr. Morsi six weeks ago, followed a series of government threats. But the scale — lasting more than 12 hours, with armored vehicles, bulldozers, tear gas, birdshot, live ammunition and snipers — and the ferocity far exceeded the Interior Ministry’s promises of a gradual and measured dispersal,” the Times reported.
“At least one protester was incinerated in his tent. Many others were shot in the head or chest – some who appeared to be in their early teens, including the 17-year-old daughter of a prominent Islamist leader, Mohamed el-Beltagy. At a makeshift morgue in one field hospital on Wednesday morning, the number of bodies grew to 12 from three within 15 minutes.”
Violence Draws Censure and Silence
A Wall Street Journal story reports: “International reaction to the Egyptian military’s crackdown against protest camps Wednesday morning was swift and strident, with Turkish leaders who are ideologically close to … Morsi calling the move a “massacre” and regional diplomats saying the escalating violence was worrisome for Middle East stability.
“Television viewers across the Middle East watched nonstop footage that kicked off when Egypt’s security operation started around 7 a.m. The graphic images of Egyptian armored bulldozers sweeping away dirt defense formations and plastic tents at the anti-military sit-ins struck a chord across many parts the Middle East, where viewers are more used to equating such actions to Israeli military operations against Palestinians.
“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office posted a statement on its website urging the United Nations to intervene. It castigated the international community for sanctioning the coup that forced Mr. Morsi from office and turning its back on democratic values.
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence ‘in the strongest terms,’ a spokesman said, adding … Ban regretted that Egyptian authorities chose to use force against the demonstrations. Diplomats said the U.N. Security Council had no plans to meet on events in Egypt, which is considered an internal matter and is not formally on the council’s agenda. Any council member could choose to raise the matter informally, a diplomat said.”