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Egypt Clashes Among Country's Worst Bloodshed


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg.

Egypt's Health Ministry reports more than 70 people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters that took place on a major road in Cairo. Most of them were supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails.

Reaction to the fighting in Egypt is rather muted at the moment. But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, a growing number of Egyptians are concerned over what the government is planning next.


SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The main morgue in Cairo was too full to accommodate all of the bodies from the attack. Some of them, draped in sheets, remained outside in the sweltering heat. Human Rights Watch reports that many of those killed were shot in the head, neck, or chest by riot police.


NELSON: The clashes began when pro-Morsi protesters tried expanding their sit-in camp to a major boulevard, where they were confronted by police and armed civilians.

The Muslim Brotherhood claims the attack was unprovoked, but security officials claim they were only reacting to pro-Morsi protestors moving in on anti-Morsi demonstrators.

MOHAMMED IBRAHIM: (Foreign Language Spoken)

NELSON: At a news conference yesterday, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim also denied that police officers were aiming to kill.

IBRAHIM: (Foreign Language Spoken)

NELSON: He added that to improve public safety, he is reactivating unpopular security agencies that spy on Egyptians and that were mothballed after Hosni Mubarak's ouster. That didn't sit well with supporters of the interim government, including the Tamarod movement, which is credited with generating the popular groundswell that led to the military coup.

In a statement posted online, the group said it utterly rejects a return to civil rights infringements of the Mubarak era, even in the name of fighting religious extremism and terrorism.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
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