CAIRO - Scores of people have been killed and thousands injured in Cairo after Egypt's security forces opened live ammunition on protesters supporting deposed President Mohamed Morsi against Egypt's new military coup.
"They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill," Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told Reuters early on Saturday, July 27.
El-Haddad said the shooting started shortly before pre-dawn morning prayers on the fringes of a round-the-clock sit-in being staged by supporters of Morsi who was toppled by the army more than three weeks ago.
He added that the police had started firing repeated rounds of teargas after 3:00 am (0100 GMT) at protesters who had spilled out of the main area of the Rabaa sit-in.
"Through the smog of the gas, the bullets started flying," he said.
In addition to "special police forces in black uniforms" firing live rounds, he said that snipers shot from the roofs of a university, other nearby buildings, and a bridge.
Activists rushed blood-spattered casualties into a makeshift hospital, some were carried in on planks or blankets.
"We will stay here until we die, one by one," said Ahmed Ali, 24, helping treat casualties at the field hospital.
"We have the examples of Algeria and Syria in our minds. We don't want it to become a civil war.
Saad el-Hosseini, another senior Brotherhood politician, said he thought security forces were looking to clear the Rabaa sit-in.
I have been trying to make the youth withdraw for five hours. I can't," he told Reuters.
They are saying they have paid with their blood and they do not want to retreat.
Figures released by the Muslim Brotherhood said that at least 120 supporters of Egypt's ousted president Morsi have been shot dead by security officials.
A Reuters reporter counted 36 bodies at one morgue, while health officials said there were a further 21 corpses in two nearby hospitals.
The Health Ministry reported a total 38 dead.
Al Jazeera's Egypt television station reported that scores were killed while some 4,500 injured in the early morning violence.
Egypt's Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused the Brotherhood of exaggerating the death toll for political ends and denied that police had opened fire.The deaths followed rival protests in Friday after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians came out onto the streets in answer to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's call on Wednesday for mass protests.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters protested in larger numbers across different Egyptian governorates to demand Morsi's reinstatement.
The news of the new crackdown on peaceful protester stirred concerns from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton who "deeply deplored" deaths during demonstrations in Egypt.
(Ashton) is following with concern the latest developments in Egypt and deeply deplores the loss of life during yesterday's demonstrations, a spokeswoman for Ashton told Reuters.
She also calls on all actors to refrain from violence and to respect the principles of peaceful protest and non-violence.
The worst of Friday's violence was reported in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, and the Brotherhood said some of its supporters were still trapped in a city mosque by "thugs".
The new attacks followed an earlier order issued by a top Egyptian court on Friday to detain deposed president Morsi for questioning over suspected collaboration with Palestinian Hamas.
Analysts say the new accusations indicate that the military is carrying out investigations geared toward a broader legal assault on the Brotherhood.
This is a preparation for eliminating the Brotherhood, said Emad Shahin, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo.
Egypt has been thrown into turmoil after Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was toppled by the powerful military on Wednesday after massive protests against his regime.
The army also suspended the constitution and instated the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as interim president.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has vowed peaceful protests until the Islamist president is reinstated.
Weeks of violence have followed Morsi' ousting lave left more than 200 dead and laying bare divisions that have polarized the Arab world's most populous state.