Update from Sky News: More than 250 people have reportedly been killed as Egyptian security forces cleared two protest camps loyal to deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
Sky’s Sam Kiley, reporting from the Rabaa al Adawiya camp in Cairo, said it was “under very heavy gunfire” and was a “massive military assault on largely unarmed civilians in very large numbers”.
He added: “There are machine gun rounds and snipers on the roof that are preventing people from getting any closer to the field hospital.
Egyptian police broke up a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in near the Giza zoo in Cairo, in an attempt to clear the other at Rabaa El-Adawiya square after dawn on Wednesday. Egypt’s caretaker government has pledged to disperse the thousands of Islamists who were gathered in both venues, al Ahram reports.
The Cairo ambulance authority said five were killed and at least 52 wounded, but the Brotherhood put the death toll at 121, citing reports from a makeshift hospital located near the Rabaa sit-in.
Egypt’s state television said two policemen were killed and six wounded during the attempt to clear out the two sit-ins. All entrances to the sites are blocked by security forces.
Some 200 protesters were arrested on charges of carrying firearms, knives and gas canisters, the state news agency MENA reported.
“In accordance with government instructions to take necessary measures towards the sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda, and for the safety of the country, security forces started taking measures to disperse the sit-ins early Wednesday,” the interior ministry said in a statement.”
Live television footage showed riot police firing tear gas at protesters at one of the entrances of Rabaa El-Adawiya mosque in northern Cairo, where tens of thousands have been camping for six weeks to demand the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad accused police snipers of firing at Rabaa protesters from the rooftop of surrounding buildings.
Al-Nahar and ONTV satellite channels said their cameras were confiscated by police.
At the Nahda camp, extending down a palm tree-lined boulevard next to the Cairo zoo in Giza, police used loudspeakers to urge protesters to leave as sounds of gunfire rang out.
“Armed men in both camps fired at police forces once they started dispersing the sit-ins … police were able to control Nahda and are still combing the surrounding area,” the interior ministry said in another statement on its official Facebook page.
“The police forces only used tear gas despite being attacked by live ammunition [from protesters].”