Egypt police end standoff at mosque

2013-08-17 23:05
Egyptians, soldiers and policemen gather outside Cairo's Al-Fath mosque where Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi were hold up, leading to a tense standoff. (Mohamed el-Shahed, AFP)

Egyptians, soldiers and policemen gather outside Cairo's Al-Fath mosque where Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi were hold up, leading to a tense standoff. (Mohamed el-Shahed, AFP)

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Cairo - Egyptian police cleared Islamist protesters from a Cairo mosque on Saturday after a standoff that included exchanges of fire, as the death toll from four days of violence surpassed 750.

Security forces dragged supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi from the Al-Fath mosque, passing through angry crowds who tried to beat the Islamists, calling them "terrorists".

The clashes came as the government said 173 people had been killed within 24 hours, bringing the country's death toll to more than 750 since Wednesday, when police cleared two camps of Morsi loyalists in the capital.

In Alexandria, Islamist marchers clashed with civilians during an evening protest, said the official MENA news agency.

Mass demonstrations

According to an AFP tally, at least 1 042 people have been killed since 26 June, when Morsi supporters began protesting before mass demonstrations against the Islamist leader that prompted the military to end his single year of turbulent rule on 3 July.

International criticism of the bloodshed mounted, with Germany and Qatar jointly condemning the "brutal violence".

The standoff at Al-Fath mosque in Ramses Square began on Friday, with security forces surrounding the building where Islamists were sheltering and trying to convince them to leave.

The Islamists had lined up the bodies of dozens of protesters who had been killed on Friday inside the mosque-turned-morgue.

By Saturday afternoon, the situation turned violent, with an AFP reporter at the scene saying gunmen inside the mosque were trading fire with police outside.

Police eventually dragged people from inside the mosque, firing in the air to hold back residents who tried to attack the Islamists with sticks and iron bars.

Both outside the mosque and in other parts of Cairo, residents targeted those suspected of being Islamists, often for no more than wearing a beard or a veil.

The "Friday of anger" demonstrations called by Morsi's supporters turned violent, with gunshots ringing out in Cairo.

The government said those clashes killed least 173 people across the country, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria.


Read more on:    egypt  |  egypt protests  |  north africa  |  egypt crisis

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