24 Dead in Egypt Clashes, Calls for Another Rebellion
At least 24 people were killed Sunday night in a clash between protesters and the military in Cairo. Demonstrators accused Egypt’s interim rulers of brutally suppressing protests just as the Mubarak regime did, and called for a second rebellion after the one that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.
The government accused rioters of being part of a foreign conspiracy, and threatened a delay in the return to civilian rule.
The clash began with an attempt by Coptic Christian protesters to hold a peaceful sit-in at a television station, in protest of the government’s inaction in the face of attacks on churches.
However, the protest quickly descended into violence. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them,” one protester told the Associated Press.
A second witness confirmed the military vehicle attack and said he had seen bodies crushed under the wheels. “When some Muslims saw the blood they joined the Christians against the army,” he said.
Most of the 24 victims of the riot were Christians killed by security forces, witnesses said. Some Muslims were killed as well. A second clash broke out near the hospital where the bodies were taken.
Protesters set fire to military vehicles. One group attacked a soldier, as a Christian priest who had been demonstrating attempted to defend him.
The military government’s State TV gave heavily pro-army reports of events, going so far as to call for “honorable Egyptians” to come fight with the army against demonstrators. Government officials later admitted that the coverage had been “emotional,” but denied media bias.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf accused rioters of being part of a “dirty conspiracy,” and threatened that further violence would bring Egypt farther from civilian rule. “Instead of moving forward… we are back to seeking stability and searching for hidden hands – domestic and foreign – that meddle with the country’s security and safety,” he said.