Clashes erupted Monday evening in Cairo’s downtown between police forces and hundreds of deposed president Mohamed Morsi supporters, who have been demanding the reinstatement of the former elected president.
Eyewitnesses told Ahram Online that violence broke out after police forces fired teargas at pro-Morsi protesters to clear the Six of October Bridge above downtown’s Ramsis street, both of which were both blocked by the demonstrations.
According to Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news portal, Morsi’s proponents blocked the bridge in both directions by parking trucks in the lanes, bringing traffic to a complete halt. Protesters also built a wall on top of the bridge in what seemed an attempt to permanently block it.
Morsi’s supporters hurled stones at the police after the latter fired teargas canisters. Ahram Online’s reporter says the police have also used birdshot, and that a number of downtown residents and opponents of the Brotherhood joined the police against the pro-Morsi supporters.
The same reporter says at least two police personnel were injured by birdshot. Egyptian Ambulance Organization head Mohamed Sultan says 22 were injured in the clashes on the bridge and in Ramsis Street. No deaths were reported.
Live footage on Al-Jazeera showed teargas being fired into the air in Ramsis. Al-Ahram’s Arabic site reported that street vendors also locked horns with Morsi supporters, refusing to let them stage a sit-in as planned.
Clashes continued after midnight on both Ramsis Street and the bridge above it. Tires were set on fire as the police intensified its presence on the bridge with at least eight trucks and troops.
Egypt’s interior ministry said that it “had to use” teargas to disperse the pro-Morsi protest in downtown Cairo’s Ramsis Square, on the grounds that protesters blocked traffic in the area and allegedly threw rocks at passing cars.
The ministry claimed that police forces warned Morsi supporters “against disrupting public order,” asserting that they only moved to disperse the crowd after protesters persisted despite the warning.
Several kilometers away, military police prevented around 5,000 Morsi supporters – coming from the main pro-Morsi sit-in staged at Rabaa Al-Adawyia Mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City – from joining the Ramsis turmoil, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic website,
There has not been any violence reported at the Nasr City sit-in, however.
Meanwhile, street battles also erupted in the Gamra neighborhood near Ramsis between residents and Brotherhood supporters, with both sides reportedly using birdshot against the other.
Researcher Mohamed El-Khamisi, an eyewitness, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic site that a group of youth badly beat up a couple of bearded men, while other Morsi supporters escaped through side streets. Confrontations remained back and forth and several injuries were sustained, according to El-Khamisi.