Dozens dead in Egypt’s ‘day of rage’ clashes


  Anti-military coup protesters gathered around Ramses Square [Reuters]

Violence erupts as defiant anti-coup protesters return to streets in defiance of military warnings.

Fresh clashes in Egypt have resulted in dozens of deaths as calls for a “day of rage” by opponents of the military-led regime turned to bloodshed.

In the worst of the violence, a correspondent for Al Jazeera said at least 41 people were killed in Cairo’s Ramses Square on Friday as anti-coup protesters were fired on by government forces. A protester, Said Mohammed, told Al Jazeera that the crowds were shot at by men in helicopters.

“Helicopters started to shoot us as we were walking. My friend was shot in the neck and he died,” he said. “This was the first time we saw helicopters shooting. There were people shooting from the windows.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and anti-coup groups had called for the protests after Friday prayers in support of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi and in defiance of a military crackdown on sit-in demonstrations that left hundreds dead on August 14.

Earlier on October 6 bridge near Ramses Square, a protester called Ahmed Tohami told Al Jazeera that there was “blood in the streets” as police fired tear gas and bullets at marchers, as what sounded like gunfire could be heard in the background.

“Men, young ladies, old women, under attack. The kids here on the bridge – we are under attack… there is no way down. Hundreds of thousands of us are on the bridge. They are attacking us from the front, they are attacking us from behind. We have nowhere to go,” he said live on Al Jazeera.

Elsewhere, the Reuters news agency said eight protesters had been killed in the city of Damietta, while four were killed in clashes with security forces in the Egyptian city of Ismailia, notheast of Cairo.

Health officials gave the death toll on Friday across Egypt as 17.

In a statement, the Egyptian Army said it had started to deployed forces along all main roads and squares, and were ready to intervene “in case there is any imminent threat that violates the people’s security”.

The protesters are marching in the face of warnings by authorities that security forces would use deadly force if provoked. Army commanders gave warning that troops would fire at anyone who attacked government buildings.

The Interior Ministry ordered its forces to use live ammunition when dealing with any attacks on security forces or building institutions, citing its legal right to defence.

“In light of the Muslim Brotherhood’s targeting of some police and state institutions in several cities, the law permits policemen to use measures to secure the national and stop attacks on citizens and public and private property,” the ministry said on its Facebook page on Thursday.

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