A supporter of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi sleeps by sand barriers set up by protesters around Raba’a Al-Adaweya square perimeter and surrounding streets in Cairo, Aug. 12, 2013.
The Egyptian presidency said Wednesday it was imposing a one month state of emergency throughout the country after the army clashed with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo and other cities.
The government announcement was made on state television shortly after the Health Ministry said 95 people had been killed in Cairo and elsewhere since the clashes with Morsi supporters began earlier in the day.
Pro-Morsi groups had been saying the casualty figures were much higher than the government was acknowledging. Their figures could not be independently verified. Egyptian state media say at least two security force members have been killed in the melee.
The Associated Press reported that a cameraman for British broadcaster Sky News and a Dubai-based newspaper reporter also were killed during violence.
Reuters news agency says at least nine people were killed on Wednesday in the Egyptian province of Fayoum, south of Cairo following fighting at police stations between Morsi supporters and the security forces.
Adel Abdel Ghafar, a visiting scholar with the American University in Cairo, told VOA that details about Wednesday’s events may be slow to emerge because of the politically charged atmosphere.
“The media is quite polarized. The people on Twitter are polarized. I think it will take at least a day or two to verify the casualties.”
Police backed by bulldozers and armored cars, fired tear gas at the protest sites. Television footage showed smoke rising over the protest site and military helicopters circling in the sky. State media say some 35 protesters have been arrested for having gas cans or cylinders.
Reports say the Nahda Square protest site, near Cairo University, has been completely cleared of demonstrators and soldiers have sealed off the roads leading to the university. Egypt’s railway authority says train service in and out of Cairo has been suspended to keep activists from regrouping elsewhere.
Layla Moustafa, an activist in the anti-coup alliance, tells VOA the movement by security forces started early in the morning.
“There were snipers situated on rooftops of buildings near Rabaa. The shootings and dispersals started from approximately seven in the morning today and are ongoing until now.”
She said Wednesday’s actions will not quell the outcry against Morsi’s opponents.
“Already, protesters are taking to the streets right now, nationwide, in all cities. There have been ongoing protests since yesterday nationwide in all governates.”
Officials and witnesses say the unrest began Tuesday when hundreds of Morsi supporters marched on several ministries to protest the military-backed interim government installed after the military deposed Morsi on July 3.
Local residents and shopkeepers who backed the ouster threw stones at Morsi supporters marching on the Interior Ministry. The protesters retaliated with stones and police fired tear gas to try to break up street confrontations between Morsi’s supporters and opponents.
Other supporters of the former president remained at two Cairo protest camps, defying days of warnings that the government may soon try to evict them.
More than 250 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi’s overthrow.
The interim civilian government is moving ahead with a transition plan that involves reforming Egypt’s constitution and holding elections early next year.
Egypt Announces Month-Long State of Emergency
Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour has announced a month-long state of emergency beginning 4 p.m. on Wednesday and mandated the army to assist the police in restoring security and order.
Violence swept the country on Wednesday as the Egyptian authorities began their crackdown on ousted President Mohamed Mursi’s supporters.
Ninety-five people were killed in the crackdown, the health ministry said.
A statement by the presidency said that it mandated the armed forces and the police to do what they can to restore order while protecting lives as well as public and private property.