CAIRO - In a massacre compared to Tiananmen Square's, scores of Egyptian civilian people have been killed early on Wednesday, August 14, as Egyptian security forces moved in to clear two protest camps occupied by peaceful supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo.
"At 7 am they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children," teacher Saleh Abdulaziz, 39, clutching a bleeding wound on his head, told Reuters.
"They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop."
The operation came after international efforts failed to mediate an end to a six-week political standoff between Mursi's supporters and the army-backed government which took power after his ouster on July 3.
Gunfire rang out as protesters ran away from Rabaa, and clouds of black smoke rose above the sites. Armored vehicles moved in alongside bulldozers which began clearing away tents.
According to Anadolu Agency, death toll in Egyptian capital Cairo rose to 163 after police assault on anti-coup sit-in. At least 5000 people have been injured.
Al-Jazeera satellite channel put the death toll at 200 while sources inside the field hospital in Rabaa square told Al-Jazeera that hundreds have been killed in the massacre.The attack occurred early on Wednesday when security forces began dispersing on anti-coup demonstrators in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares.
"Tear gas was falling from the sky like rain. There are no ambulances inside. They closed every entrance," protester Khaled Ahmed, 20, a university student wearing a hard hat with tears streaming down his face, told Reuters.
"There are women and children in there. God help them. This is a siege, a military attack on a civilian protest camp."
Live broadcasts from the square were cut as well as signals of the communication lines were blocked by jammer devices.
The interior ministry issued a statement saying security forces were taking "necessary measures" against the protest at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the east of Cairo and the protest in Nahda Square in the west.
The statement said a safe exit would be provided for protesters and they would not be pursued, "except those who are wanted by the prosecution".
The Nahda Square camp near Cairo University has now been completely cleared, according to the ministry.
The protesters want Morsi, ousted by the military on 3 July, reinstated.
Live television footage showed medics wearing gas masks and swimming goggles as they treated the wounded.
It is nasty inside, they are destroying our tents," Murad Ahmed said at the edge of the sprawling camp, where Muslim Brotherhood guards had positioned sandbags in anticipation of a police raid.
We can't breathe inside and many people are in hospital.
Foreign reporters from inside the Rabaa al Adawiya camp in Cairo said that protesters came "under very heavy gunfire" and was a "massive military assault on largely unarmed civilians in very large numbers," Sky's Sam Kiley said.
"There are machine gun rounds, and snipers on the roof, that are preventing people from getting any closer to the field hospital (in the camp).
There are reports of further protests by Morsi supporters outside the capital.
In the northern city of Alexandria they are reported to have blocked main roads.
Thousands are said to have gathered outside the governor's office in Beni Suif, Minia and Aswan in the south.
Egypt has been convulsed by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by US-backed President Hosni Mubarak.
There is deepening alarm in the West over the course taken by Egypt, which receives around $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States each year.
It also has a peace treaty with close US ally Israel and controls the Suez Canal, a vital waterway for global trade.
More than 300 people have already died in political violence since the army overthrew Morsi on July 3, including dozens of his supporters killed by security forces in two separate earlier incidents.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net