The worst violence since the anti-Mubarak uprising more than two years ago has left approximately 100 dead and 1,000-4,000 wounded after Friday’s and Saturday’s deadly military offensive against demonstrators.
The Health Ministry reported that 65 were killed, but non-governmental Arab sources put the death toll at 100 or higher.
The Obama administration refuses to call the military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi a “coup,” but the army’s shoot-to-kill off offensive on Saturday made it clear that it is in charge,
Egypt is sharply divided between pro-army and pro-Morsi supporters, with demonstrations on each side attracting hundreds of thousands of people.
Each side blamed the other for the violence.
The Obama administration, which hastened the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and now has supported the removal of Morsi, is aghast at the violence.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Egypt’s leaders to “to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told army General Abdel Fattah al Sisi to “take steps to prevent further bloodshed and loss of life.”
Some of the demonstrators were peaceful, other threw rocks at police and some were armed with revolvers.
The violence a Friday evening, when approximately six people were killed, was mild compared with what ensued towards midnight, when pro-Morsi supporters marched from their stronghold towards an area where police were stationed.
Police fired tear gas, the demonstrators retaliated with rocks, and the violence quickly escalated, with police firing live ammunition throughout the night,
By Saturday morning, a field hospital was overcrowded, bodies were covered with white sheets. Many of the dead were shot in the head
Al Jazeera reported that the number of those wounded is more than 4,000.
The Muslim Brotherhood does not have the arsenal to fight the army, but the widespread murders by the army make a political solution to the violence less probable in the near future.
Even Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, who was put into office by the military, said on Twitter, “I condemn excessive use of force and the casualties. I am working with all effort in every direction to end the confrontation through peaceful means.”
Evidence of the military’s intentions to muffle the Muslim Brotherhood were evident when helicopters dropped Egyptian flags on pro-Morsi supporters, who then chanted, “We do not want flags; we want Morsi.”