Update: At least 4 protesters killed during demos marking Rabea anniversary

As Thursday’s violent clashes died out in the evening, state officials announced that at least four protesters were killed and 17 more injured during nationwide confrontations between demonstrators and security forces. Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the brutal dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-in camps that left over 1,000 people dead on August 14, 2013.

The National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy released a statement earlier on Thursday stating that six protesters had been killed, but the Ministry of Health denied its claims.

Mohamed Sultan, head of the Ambulance Authority, told the privately owned satellite channel Al-Hayat that the majority of today’s casualties were the result of gunshot wounds.

In Cairo’s Matareya neighborhood, one person was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, while another died after being shot in the chest and abdomen.

Two other protesters killed in Thursday’s violence were transported to the Zeinhom Morgue by residents in Giza’s Ard al-Lewa neighborhood, Sultan said.

Nine people were also injured in Matareya when police forces, area residents and street vendors assaulted a Brotherhood-affiliated march. Three more protesters were injured in Maadi, Helwan and Heliopolis.

One policeman was also killed in Thursday’s violence, according to an Interior Ministry statement. Security sources told the state-owned EgyNews website that Ramadan Fayez Mohamed, a police conscript in Helwan, was killed by unknown assailants in an armed attack early in the day.

In the midst of the ongoing violence, security forces arrested 114 protesters across the country on Thursday, reported the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).

Demonstrators were arrested on charges of protesting without obtaining legal permission or notifying police stations, clashing with civilian residents, assaulting security forces and burning police cars, according to the ministry. 

In Alexandria, dozens of protesters set car tires ablaze to block the Corniche on the eastern side of the city, leading to fights with drivers and passersby. The demonstrators left the scene before security forces arrived.

In Fayoum, south of Cairo, clashes broke out when security forces dispersed a march attempting to surround the police station. Protesters threw broken glass and rocks at the security forces, who responded with tear gas. No injuries were reported in the incident, though a natural gas pump exploded during the clashes. Civil defense forces put out the resulting fire before it spread to surrounding buildings.

In Beheira, police arrested four protesters marching with Rabea banners, including former member of parliament Ragab Emesh, AMAY reported.  

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy issued a statement on Thursday demanding retribution for the deadly dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins last year, which the group described as a “Holocaust.”

The statement praised protesters marking the one-year anniversary of the violent events for “lighting streets and squares on fire with the fuel of anger, while remaining peaceful and composed despite the coup’s brutal violence claiming the lives of new martyrs.”

The alliance warned it would continue protesting until all its demands were met, including “releasing all detained women, children and the sick immediately, as a prelude to releasing all detainees,” and “the army returning to its barracks, removing all obstacles in the way of justice running its course and punishing murderers for all the massacres they committed.”

Speaking to the Turkish Anadolu news agency, alliance spokesperson Khaled Said asserted that protesters don’t plan on sitting in anywhere in the country, nor do they plan on breaking into Tahrir, Rabea, or Nahda Squares, “to avoid giving security forces the chance to attack us.”

“We’re peaceful and we reject violence in all its forms. We always place the words of Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie before our eyes: Our peacefulness is stronger than bullets,” he added.

According to Said, protesters plan to continue demonstrating on Friday and into the coming week.

As violent clashes between Brotherhood demonstrators and police forces raged earlier on Thursday, journalists were targeted by protesters and security forces alike as they attempted to cover the events.

Azza Fadhaly, an AMAY photojournalist, said she was assaulted and her equipment was stolen while she was covering clashes between police and Brotherhood-affiliated protesters on Ahmed Zaki Street in Maadi.

When she attempted to leave the clashes, “a group of people gathered around me, swearing and beating me. One of them snatched my bag, opened it and took my camera and laptop,” Fadhaly said.

“A guy in his underwear dragged me into a side street to beat and interrogate me,” she continued. “When I gave him identification papers proving I was a journalist, he wasn’t convinced until a group of photojournalists managed to rescue me and asked me to leave the area right away.”

Fadhaly recovered her camera, but her laptop could not be located.

Prior to the assault, Fadhaly published images of two other photojournalists, Ahmed Abdel Gawad from the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper and Mahmoud Abdel Latif from El Badil news site, being arrested while covering the clashes in Maadi earlier on Thursday.

Another photojournalist, Mahmoud Bakkar from the Masrawy news site, was also arrested on Thursday while covering events in the Dar al-Salam neighborhood.

Shortly after 6 pm, Abdel Gawad and Bakkar were both released from the Dar al-Salam police station.

According to the Interior Ministry, 23 homemade bombs were found and diffused across the country amid the ongoing protests. On Thursday evening, security forces defused a bomb composed of seven sticks of dynamite that had been planted opposite the City Center shopping mall in Nasr City, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

A similar explosive device was also reportedly found and defused near the Genina shopping mall in the same neighborhood.

Earlier in the day, a private car was blown up in Helwan as police forces rushed to the scene, Al-Ahram reported. The privately owned newspaper Al-Watan also reported that a homemade bomb was defused inside a train in the southern governorate of Luxor, in the first report of its kind from Upper Egypt during the day.

Another bombing took place in an electricity box in 10th of Ramadan City, as security sources confirmed that the bomb was placed underneath the box.

Two bombs were also found in Faisal Street, which witnessed a major protest by the Brotherhood that was dispersed by security forces.

Another two bombs were defused in front of Omraneya police station in Giza before exploding.

Security sources also told the privately owned ONA news agency that one bomb was defused in Zahraa Nasr City tunnels in addition to three false reports of other bombs in the same area. Another bomb was reportedly defused in Sherbin railway station in Daqahlia, while a third was defused in Abu Qeer railway station in Alexandria.

One child was injured when a homemade bomb exploded close to the International Garden in Fayoum, security sources told Al-Watan.

Islam Abdel Fattah, 12, was severely injured in the face and hand and was taken to Fayoum General Hospital before being transferred to Cairo. Police forces reportedly defused five other bombs in the same area.

Protests took place on Thursday morning in Haram Street and Dokki, as well as other governorates in the Delta, but security forces dispersed them with tear gas. One police truck was set ablaze, allegedly by protesters in Damietta.

Security was stepped up in Rabea Square to prevent Brotherhood protesters from reaching it. Police also said entrances to Cairo had been secured.

Protests marking the first anniversary of the Rabea and Nahda sit-in dispersals started on Wednesday across the country. Protesters reportedly blocked the Cairo-Ismailia desert road and Autostrad close to Maadi, chanting against the military and calling for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the state-owned Middle East News Agency reported.

ONA also reported that Brotherhood protesters cut off Obour road in the northern governorate of Qalyubiya, and Nahya Bridge close to the end of Gamaet al-Dowal al-Arabiya in Mohandiseen. Protesters also briefly cut the railways in Giza, disrupting trains to and from Upper Egypt, but security forces quickly dispersed them.

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