MOSCOW, July 8 (RIA Novosti) – Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured when gunmen opened fire at a demonstration in the Egyptian capital Cairo in support of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on Monday, international news agencies report citing local health officials.
The Egyptian Health Ministry put the number of dead at 42 and the number of injured at over 300, local media reported, although the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed the numbers involved are much higher, while the Egyptian Army has said they are lower.
Muslim Brotherhood protesters had camped out for days near a compound run by the Republican Guard, part of the Egyptian Army, where they believe Morsi, who was ousted by the Army on July 3, is being held, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Early on Monday, gunmen opened fire amid the crowds, leaving scores dead and many more injured, international news agencies reported.
The Muslim Brotherhood is reported in local and international media as claiming that the Army and Police opened fire on peaceful protesters while they were praying.
The Egyptian Army confirmed that one officer died in the violence, and said it had been forced to open fire when an “armed terrorist group” tried to storm the building, according to local and international news reports.
One eyewitness said that gunmen loyal to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were the first to open fire, while another said that the firefight followed clashes involving rocks and tear-gas, the AP reported.
The AP notes that these conflicting reports cannot immediately be reconciled.
Morsi narrowly won the country’s first free presidential election last June with 51.7 percent of the vote, after the country’s former ruler Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011.
On July 3, the Egyptian Army ousted Morsi in what it said was an interim measure. The takeover been described as a “military coup” by the Muslim Brotherhood and the international media.
Speaking in Kazakhstan on Sunday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned that Egypt could be heading for civil war.