Group had reportedly tried to storm the headquarters of the Republican Guard
Followers of the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the Egyptian military of carrying out a massacre after at least 40 people were killed and over 300 injured when the army and security forces opened fire on supporters of Mohamed Morsi during dawn prayers this morning.
Victims of the shooting, which took place at a pro-Morsi protest in eastern Cairo, were rushed to nearby hospitals.
At a field clinic close to the scene, one doctor told The Independent that he had seen eleven bodies. The victims had been shot in the head, neck and chest, he added.
As he spoke another victim was rushed in on a stretcher, his bare chest drenched in blood. The man groaned in pain as medics hurriedly patched him up with bandages. A doctor said he had been shot in the head.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm has called on Egyptians to rise up against the army after clashes between troops and supporters of the ousted president left 40 people dead.
Gunshots were continuing to ring out this morning as troops guarding the area tried to prevent protesters and reporters from accessing the area. The killings happened close to the headquarters of the Republican Guard in eastern Cairo.
Thousands of pro-Brotherhood protesters have been holding a sit-in outside the building since last week, demanding the release of Mr Morsi, who they believe to be imprisoned inside.
For the past few days the building’s entrance has been protected by a barbed wire cordon manned by troops and the central security services.
According to witnesses who spoke to The Independent, at around 4am this morning – just as worshippers at the sit-in were finishing their dawn prayers – tear gas was launched at the demonstrators and gunshots rang out.
“We were in the second part of the dawn prayer,” said Ayman Mohamed, a 46-year-old who saw the events unfold. “Suddenly there was gas everywhere being fired from both sides.
“Then were started running. After that they began shooting at us from behind. They were shooting, shooting, shooting.”
Mr Mohamed said that the crowds ran into a nearby street – the same road which leads on to a separate pro-Morsi sit-in about a mile away in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
The road is lined by at least two or three buildings which have troops positioned on the roofs. According to witnesses, the troops began firing at the protesters as they ran from the Republican Guard headquarters. “It was a massacre,” said Islam Faris, 32.
Several nearby parked cars near the scene of the shooting were riddled with bullet holes. The rupture marks in the roofs and bonnets suggested the shots had been fired directly from the direction of the soldiers positioned on the nearby buildings.
As outrage among the Brotherhood’s supporters began to grow, Reuters news agency reported a military source as saying the firing began when a “terrorist group” tried to storm the Republican Guard headquarters. Officials said that one army officer was killed during the clashes.
The claim was vehemently denied by several eyewitnesses on the scene.