Egypt: Death Toll Rises as State of Emergency Begins
The Egyptian interim government has declared a state of emergency, as the death toll continues to mount as security forces attempt to put an end to weeks of protest by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
According to the BBC, the state of emergency was set to begin at 16:00 local time. It is set to last for only a month, but some analysts are already pointing out that Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who was also ousted after a popular uprising, utilized the "emergency law" powers for 31 years as a tool to quash opposition and silence political dissent.
The state of emergency comes amid violent scenes Wednesday, as police and the military moved in to disperse supporters of Mohammed Morsi, who have been camping out at several locations throughout the capital Cairo, and elsewhere. The Egyptian Health Ministry says that 149 people have been killed in a single day, including at least two members of the security forces, and more than 800 have been injured. Hundreds of protesters have also been arrested
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, is claiming that the death toll is far higher, with at least 800 people killed in what it is terming a "massacre."
One of those killed was Asmaa el-Beltagy, the 17-year-old daughter of leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy. Her brother claims she was shot in the back and chest.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry claimed in a statement that security forces have been using non-lethal crowd-dispersal methods such as tear gas, but came under fire from armed Morsi supporters.
"Security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts."
Wednesday's violence began when bulldozers finally moved in to clear the largest protest camp outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo. Officials claim that they have fully cleared the protest camp at Nahda Square, which was the other major focal point for pro-Morsi demostrators.