Egypt declares national emergency

The last stand: James Reynolds reports from Cairo on how the day of violence unfolded

Egypt has declared a month-long state of emergency after scores of people were killed when security forces stormed two protest camps in Cairo.

Thousands of supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood had staged the sit-ins.

Police have arrested key Brotherhood members and taken control of the camps. The government says 149 people were killed in the operation.

The US condemned the emergency law and appealed for calm.

The Muslim Brotherhood says more than 2,000 people died in Wednesday's violence.

Emergency law in Egypt

  • Curfew in Cairo and other provinces from 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) to 06:00 local time daily
  • Arrest of suspects deemed dangerous to public order
  • Army to help police maintain security
  • Limited movement of people and traffic
  • Surveillance on messages and monitoring of media

The state of emergency is scheduled to last for a month, and imposes a curfew in Cairo and several other provinces between 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) and 06:00.

The measure was taken because the "security and order of the nation face danger due to deliberate sabotage, and attacks on public and private buildings and the loss of life by extremist groups," the presidency said in a statement.

Vice-President Mohammed ElBaradei has announced his resignation from the interim government in the wake of the violence.

"I cannot continue in shouldering the responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and I fear their consequences. I cannot shoulder the responsibility for a single drop of blood," he said in a statement.


At the scene

Shortly before seven in the morning, from a street corner near the Rabaa mosque encampment, I watched the raid begin.

An armoured military bulldozer drove down towards the barricades on the edges of the encampment. The bulldozer pushed its way through rows of bricks and sandbags. Pro-Morsi protesters responded by throwing stones and burning tyres.

At the same time, riot police in armoured personnel carriers advanced through nearby streets. For more than two hours I heard the crack of live ammunition. The sharp bangs were accompanied by the deeper thud of tear gas explosions.

For a while, it was hard to breathe without a gas mask. Some local residents held handkerchiefs to their faces - and watched the police deployment from their balconies.

Armoured bulldozers moved into the two protest camps shortly after dawn on Wednesday morning.

Large plumes of smoke rose over parts of the city as the operation began. Security forces fired tear gas canisters as helicopters circled above.

The smaller camp in Nahda Square was cleared relatively quickly, but clashes raged for most of the day around the main camp near Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

Egyptian television said that by evening the security forces had finally seized full control of the site, and were allowing surviving protesters to leave.

But several Muslim Brotherhood leaders were reportedly detained, including Essam El-Erian and Mohamed El-Beltagy, whose 17-year-old daughter was apparently killed.

Most of the dead are thought to be Morsi supporters, but members of the security forces were also killed.

A cameraman working for Sky News, Mick Deane, was also killed, as was a reporter for Gulf News, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz. She was not working at the time.

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Police snipers are above the nearby school buildings, shooting any resident hurrying to the square”

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There are also reports of unrest elsewhere in Egypt.

  • About 35 people have died in clashes in the province of Fayoum, south of Cairo, Reuters news agency says.
  • At least five people have been killed in the province of Suez, according to the health ministry.
  • Clashes have also been reported in the northern provinces of Alexandria and Beheira, and the central provinces of Assiut and Menya.
  • State news agency Mena says three churches have been attacked, one in the city of Sohag which has a large number of Coptic Christian residents.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi  in the eastern Nasr City Violence erupted in Cairo as security forces stormed the Muslim Brotherhood supporters' camps
A torn poster of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is pictured as riot police clear the area of his supporters at Rabaa Adawiya square The camps were full of supporters of the deposed president, Mohammed Morsi
Security forces break up sit-in at Nahda Square The Egyptian government says the Nahda Square sit-in has now been cleared
A supporter of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi shoots a slingshot at Egyptian security forces But violence continued elsewhere around the city
A protester comforts a wounded man after Egyptian security forces began to clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Aug 14, 2013 Reports of casualty figures have varied widely
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi chant slogans as they demonstrate in Egypt's northern coastal city of Alexandria There have been protests against the crackdown in other areas of Egypt, including Alexandria in the north

Supporters of Mr Morsi have been staging street protests since he was ousted on 3 July.

The protesters - many of whom are members of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement - want him to be reinstated.

Mr Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected president, narrowly winning the presidential vote in June 2012 after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Morsi is currently in custody at an undisclosed location, and has been accused of the "premeditated murder of some prisoners, officers and soldiers" during a prison breakout in 2011.

Call for restraint

Crisis timeline

  • 3 Jul: President Mohammed Morsi deposed by military after mass protests
  • 4 Jul: Pro-Morsi protesters gather at the Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda sites in Cairo
  • 27 Jul: More than 70 people killed in clashes with security forces at Rabaa al-Adawiya
  • 14 Aug: Security forces move in to clear both camps

There has been strong international reaction to the storming of the camps.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the events were "deplorable" and "a real blow to reconciliation efforts". He said the unrest "ran counter to Egyptians' aspirations to peace and democracy."

"Violence is simply not a solution in Egypt," he said.

"It will not create a roadmap for Egypt's future. violence and continued political polarisation will further tear the Egyptian economy apart."

A statement issued on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: "We reiterate that violence won't lead to any solution and we urge the Egyptian authorities to proceed with utmost restraint."

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the result of the camp clearances as a massacre, accused other countries of paving the way for the violence by staying silent, and called for the UN and the Arab League to act immediately.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the use of force.

Map of Rabaa camp
Map of Nahda square camp

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