At least 42 people were killed and around 500 injured as the Army and the police fired at a sit-in supporting the deposed Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsy, outside the Republic Guard officers club here on Monday. This triggered calls by an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood for an uprising against the new military rulers.
Amid conflicting views, the Muslim Brotherhood — Mr. Morsy’s parent organisation — has claimed that the pre-dawn firing was unprovoked. Its representatives alleged that the Army raided the sit-in using teargas, birdshots and live ammunition when protesters broke for morning prayers.
At the nearby Rabba Al-Adaweya Square, where Mr. Morsy’s supporters have encamped in their thousands for over a week, people were coming to terms with the enormity of the tragedy. An Imam of a local mosque, who had survived the firing, hobbled in the Square. “I was getting up from prayer when firing started from all directions. It lasted for nearly four hours. I saw children die after inhaling teargas,” he told onlookers, narrating his near-fatal encounter.
But the Army has strongly contested the Brotherhood’s claims.
In a statement, it said an “armed terrorist group” had tried to storm the Republican Guard building, killing one army officer and wounding 40 others, seven of them in critical condition.
The bloodbath in the early hours marks a dangerous escalation in the standoff between supporters of Mr. Morsy and the military. The Brotherhood’s political wing, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has called for an “uprising” and sought to steer popular imagination to the Islamist revolt in Syria.
Following the carnage, the Salafist Nour Party, which so far backed Mr. Morsy’s removal, has decided to withdraw from talks with the military-appointed interim President to select a provisional Prime Minister.
Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, another critic of Mr. Morsy and former presidential candidate, demanded that interim President Adly Mansour step down.
Senior politician Mohamed ElBaradei has “strongly condemned” the violence and called for an independent investigation. Turkey, a strong supporter of the Brotherhood, termed it a massacre.