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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Egypt: Army Surrounds Protesters' Mosque Refuge

Soldiers have entered a mosque in central Cairo where Islamist protesters had taken refuge after another day of deadly clashes across Egypt.
A tense stand-off remains at the Fateh mosque in Ramses Square with Egyptian footage appearing to show the security forces negotiating with the protesters, attempting to persuade them to leave.
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters are believed to have barricaded themselves inside the mosque, which has been turned into a makeshift field hospital for the wounded and a morgue for some of those killed in the protests.
Four Irish citizens - children of Hussein Halawa, the Imam of Ireland's biggest mosque in Dublin - are among those in the building.


 
Omaima Halawa, 21, who is with her two sisters Somaia, 27, and Fatima, 23, and brother Ibrihim, 17, described the scene as frightening and said a group of women had been escorted out of the mosque.
The siblings on a family holiday to Egypt with their mother.
Tensions both inside and outside the mosque continued to build on Saturday as a crowd of supporters of the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi assembled at the front of the building.
With the Brotherhood vowing to press on with daily protests, more widespread violence is expected across Egypt.
Speaking to Sky News from Cairo, journalist Jared Malsin, said: "Most people are bracing for another wave of demonstrations, as soon as later today.
Protesters inside a mosque in Cairo 

"The willingness of the security forces to use deadly force over the last several days, and the willingness of the Muslim Brotherhood to continue mobilising in the face of that deadly force show I think that we are going to see more of the same in the coming days and weeks."
He said he believed the country was "more deeply polarised than ever" and that he had witnessed "citizen-organised, vigilante squads" cropping up in individual neighbourhoods in Cairo.
"In some neighbourhoods they are pro-military, like the one that I ran into yesterday. These are people who are arming themselves with sticks and knives to keep out Muslim Brotherhood people. That in a sense is a worrying development."
More than 1,000 protesters were arrested by police across the country during a "day of rage" on Friday, of which 558 were held in Cairo.
The arrests came after tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters clashed with armed vigilantes and security forces in the fiercest street battles to engulf the country since the country's Arab Spring uprising.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood 
Tear gas could be seen during flashpoints in parts of Cairo, with protesters apparently hurling bottles and rocks at security forces.
On what the Brotherhood called the "march of rage" in response to the deaths of 638 people on Wednesday when security forces raided two sit-in protests, security officials said at least 82 people, including 10 police officers, were killed.
Ammar Badie, one of the sons of the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, was among those killed, the group's Freedom and Justice Party said on its Facebook page.
The 38-year-old died of a gunshot wound while taking part in protests in Ramses Square.
The whereabouts of his father, who has been charged with inciting violence, are unknown.
Street battles in Egypt 
Three floors of a towering commercial building overlooking the square went up in flames during the mayhem. The fire appeared to be under control by this morning.
The Egyptian cabinet issued a defiant statement, saying it was confronting a "terrorist plot."
"The cabinet affirms that the government, the armed forces, the police and the great people of Egypt are united in confronting the malicious terrorist plot by the Muslim Brotherhood," it said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande have called for an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers to discuss the deepening crisis.
It is the worst violence the country has seen since the 2011 uprising and ousting of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
His trial on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters has been adjourned until August 25.

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