Middle East

Morsi supporters wounded by gunfire

Morsi supporters wounded by gunfire
Published: 9:38 PM, July 5, 2013

CAIRO - Egyptian troops opened fire on mostly Islamist protesters marching on a Republican Guard headquarters today (July 5) to demand the restoration of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, leaving at least one severely wounded. The shooting came as tens of thousands of his supporters chanting “down with military rule” rallied around the country.

The shooting came when hundreds of Morsi supporters marched on the Guard building, where Mr Morsi was staying at the time of his ouster before being taken into military custody in an unknown location. The crowd approached a barbed wire barrier where troops were standing guard around the building.

When one supporter hung a sign of Mr Morsi on the barrier, the troops tore it down and told the crowd to stay back. A protester hung a second sign and the soldiers opened fire on the crowd, an Associated Press photographer at the scene said. Several protesters fell bloodied to the ground. At least one appeared dead, a gaping, bleeding exit wound in the back of his head.

Protesters pelted the line of troops with stones, and the soldiers responded with volleys of tear gas, but the clashes appeared for the moment to ease with mid-afternoon prayers.

The shooting risks to escalate Egypt's confrontation, with supporters of Mr Morsi - largely Islamists - rejecting the army's ousting of the country's first freely elected president Wednesday night and installation of a new civilian administration. The protester casualties are likely to further fuel calls by some in the Islamist movement for violent retaliation.

The first major Islamic militant attack came before dawn today in the tumultuous Sinai Peninsula, killing at least one soldier. Masked assailants launched a coordinated attack with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns on the airport in el-Arish, the provincial capital of northern Sinai, as well as a security forces camp in Rafah on the border with Gaza and five other military and police posts, sparking nearly four hours of clashes.

One of military's top commanders, General Ahmed Wasfi arrived at el-Arish today to lead operations there as the army declared a “war on terrorism” in Sinai.

The Brotherhood called for today’s protests, which took place at several sites around the capital and in other cities. Brotherhood officials underlined strongly to their followers that their rallies should be peaceful.

A crowd of tens of thousands of Mr Morsi supporters filled much of a broad boulevard outside a Cairo mosque several blocks away from the Republican Guard headquarters, vowing to remain in place until Mr Morsi is restored. The protesters railed against what they called the return of the regime of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, ousted in early 2011.

“The old regime has come back ... worse than before,” said Ismail Abdel-Mohsen, an 18-year old student among the crowds outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque. He dismissed the new interim head of state sworn in a day earlier, senior judge Adly Mansour, as “the military puppet”. AP