Egypt PM 'unsure' if gov't forces opened fire on Morsi supporters

Published July 30th, 2013 - 08:00 GMT
Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi (portrait) shout slogans during a demonstration following Friday prayers in Cairo on July 26, 2013 (AFP)
Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi (portrait) shout slogans during a demonstration following Friday prayers in Cairo on July 26, 2013 (AFP)

Egypt's Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said he is "not sure" if security personnel used live ammunition against supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi during clashes early Saturday, stressing the importance of respecting human rights.

I am not sure," he replied when asked by CNN if police or army forces had opened fired at pro-Morsi crowds in Cairo's Nasr City.

El-Beblawi stressed that anyone who breaks the law, including government officials, should be held accountable.

He added that he was sure an instruction had been given regarding Saturday's events, and he "was told by the minister that they took the instruction very seriously. But we will undertake an investigation to make sure that there is no abuse."

"But what surprises me is someone wants to make his voices aloud, how come they take to the street after 1 o'clock in the morning," El-Beblawi stated during the interview conducted in English.

The Ministry of Health said at least 80 were killed in the Saturday clashes that occurred less than two kilometers away from the massive pro-Morsi sit-in at Nasr City's Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque.

Doctors at the sit-in's field hospital said at least 200 protesters were killed and 4500 injured, most of whom they say were fatally shot by police forces.

According to the Egyptian prosecution and eyewitness accounts, Morsi’s supporters were attempting to rally on top of the Sixth of October Bridge, which prompted security forces to take action.

Widely circulated videos showed police troops firing rounds in the direction of Morsi's supporters, some of whom also appeared to be using firearms.

In the weeks following Morsi's ouster on 3 July, thousands of pro-Morsi protesters have staged sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and in Giza's Al-Nahda Square, located in front of Cairo University. They have also been organising marches across Egypt to demand Morsi's reinstatement as president.

The number of protesters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya increased on Friday, with crowds extending to the Unknown Soldier Memorial (one kilometre away) and the nearby Sixth of October Bridge.

The Egyptian army removed Morsi from the presidency after one year in office following nationwide protests against the former leader.

El-Beblawi, however, stressed that it there has been no interference in politics by the military since Morsi's overthrow.

"As far as I am concerned, I feel very much in charge with my council of ministers, and I haven't seen any indication or any sign from anyone to tell me what to be done," he stated.

"The moment I feel that the civilian government is besieged, I will put in my resignation."

© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

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