- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
The government of Egypt has declared a state of emergency after violent clashes on Wednesday between security forces and protesters left at least 95 people dead, including a British journalist working for Sky News.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are demanding the reinstatement of former president Mohamed Morsi, and government officials are blaming each other for the chaos, Reuters reported. Clashes have raged across the capital, Cairo, where bulldozers moved on the main protest camp outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, but they have also spread throughout the country, hitting the cities of Minya, Assiut, and Alexandria.
Accounts have said that security personnel used tear gas canisters and continued shooting at protesters even when they were begged to stop, though the interior ministry has denied that the deaths were caused by its forces firing live ammunition.
"Security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts," the ministry said in a statement.
The state of emergency was signaled at 16:00 local time, and will last for a month.
"I swear by God that if you stay in your homes, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will embroil this country so that it becomes Syria. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will push this nation to a civil war so that he escapes the gallows," declared Mohamed El-Beltagi, one of the leaders behind the Muslim Brotherhood-backed protests.
BBC News shared that el-Beltagi's 17-year-old daughter, Asmaa, was killed after she was shot in the back and the chest.
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's defense minister, has in turn blamed the U.S. and Europe for failing to provide support at a time when his country is desperately in need of help.
"We really wonder: Where is the role of the United States and the European Union and all of the other international forces that are interested in the security, safety, and well-being of Egypt? Are the values of freedom and democracy exclusively exercised in your countries but other countries do not have the right to exercise the same values and enjoy the same environment?" al-Sisi asked in an interview last week.
Reuters highlighted, however, that the U.S. gives as much as $1.3 billion in aid money to Egypt's military every year, something which it has been criticized for.
Sky News, meanwhile, reported that one of its respected cameramen, 61-year-old Mick Deane, who had worked for the company for 15 years, was shot and killed in Egypt Wednesday morning.
John Ryley, the head of Sky News, said that Deane, who was married and had two sons, had been a "brilliant journalist" and had been a mentor to many at Sky.
"Micky was humorous in a dry way, he was wise and when you're on the road with small teams, people like that are diamonds to be with," added Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall.
"Our hearts go out to his family. He died doing what he'd done so brilliantly for decades."