Egypt army in rare apology for child death

2013-02-15 08:54


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Egypt's military made a rare admission and apology on Thursday for mistakenly shooting and killing a 12-year-old street vendor in Cairo, a day after activists accused the government of trying to cover up the death.

The boy, Omar Salah, was killed on 3 February near the US Embassy and Tahrir Square during clashes in the area. Activists discovered his death coincidentally as they were searching for missing protesters in hospitals.

"The Armed Forces apologises for the mistaken killing of the child and pledges to take all legal measures against the culprit," military spokesperson Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his official Facebook page.

Opposition activists on Wednesday accused officials of trying to cover up abuses. There are also broader accusations of intensifying police abuse harkening back to the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Activists in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, raised a new allegation on Thursday that a detainee among more than 30 rounded up following a protest last week died in detention because he was denied medical treatment. The Interior Ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the case of the child killed, the military appeared to be trying to distance itself from the allegations of covering up abuse.

The spokesman said a soldier had shot and killed Salah while inspecting his weapon, denying it was during clashes. He also denied claims there was an attempt to cover up the death, saying the military reported it to civilian authorities.

During its 17-month rule of Egypt before the election of Morsi, the military was accused of using violence against protesters, including in one incident driving over protesters with armoured vehicles.

Opposition accusations

But it has never apologised or admitted abuses. Since Morsi came to power, the military retreated from the streets.

In another case, the state's chief forensic doctor appeared to backtrack from earlier statements denying that a detained activist died of torture at the hands of security forces — remarks that had also sparked opposition accusations of attempts to whitewash abuse.

The statements by the doctor and the military appeared designed to ease public anger at a time of heightened tension between the government of President Mohammed Morsi and its opponents.

Opposition activists on Wednesday accused authorities of trying to conceal the identity and age of the child killed.

At the time of his death, security officials had said they mistakenly killed a street vendor but didn't identify him as a child and there was no record of the case in the hospital, according to activists who compile data from visits to hospitals, morgues and police stations.

Activists are planning a popular funeral for Salah on Friday, and several marches against Morsi. The president's supporters plan a rally to denounce the recent violence, raising the possibility of more violent clashes.

In the case of the dead activist, 28-year-old Mohamed el-Gindy disappeared after a protest and turned up in a hospital in a coma with bruises and internal bleeding. His colleagues charged he was detained and tortured by security forces, an accusation security officials denied. He died on 4 February.

An official forensic report on Wednesday said el-Gindy died from bruises sustained in a car accident, enraging the opposition.

Medical attention

The Popular Current group, to which el-Gindy belonged, dismissed the report as political manipulation to cover up the real causes of death and promised to challenge it legally. It said it had a rival medical report proving torture.

But on Thursday, the chief forensic doctor Ihsan Gorgy appeared on the widely watched Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr TV, and signaled that he was trying to calm the furor. He said bruises on el-Gindy's body could indicate he was hit by a car or collided with some other hard object.

"It could be an accident. It could be beating and then an accident."

Activists charge that police, the main target of discontent in the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak from power, continue to enjoy impunity for past human rights violations. As a result, they say, violations continue.

Many accuse Morsi of looking the other when it comes to police abuse because he needs them to curb the protests and protect his office.

In the latest allegation of a detainee dying from abuse, Mahienour el-Masry, a local activist who is following the case, said 35-year-old Hassan Shaaban was picked up by police near a protest area last week but was continuously denied his diabetes and heart medication.

He was reported dead on Thursday, a day after prosecutors agreed to give him medical attention, el-Masry said.

Violent clashes between protesters and security forces that began around the second anniversary of Egypt's uprising on 25 January left nearly 70 civilians killed. Violence has recently tapered off but the heavy-handed crackdown on protesters, arbitrary detentions including children, and torture claims have fueled accusations that old practices of the Mubarak-era die hard.

Morsi accuses his opponents of trying to topple a democratically elected government and bringing violence to the streets.

- AP
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.