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Rediff.com  » News »  Egypt: Forces storm mosque occupied by Morsi supporters

Egypt: Forces storm mosque occupied by Morsi supporters

Last updated on: August 17, 2013 22:22 IST

Egyptian security forces stormed a mosque, where hundreds of supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi were holed up, after trading heavy gunfire with Islamic protestors, even as the death toll in street battles rose to nearly 180.

 

The stand-off between security forces and protesters who had barricaded themselves inside Al-Fateh mosque near Ramses Square in central Cairo ended today evening when troops used teargas and entered the building.

 

All protesters were taken out of the mosque and many were arrested, security forces said.

 

The situation turned violent on Saturday afternoon when protestors inside the mosque fired at security forces outside. Footage on television showed security forces on the ground trading fire with a gunman in the main minaret.

 

Amid the stand-off, interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi proposed legally dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood, which is demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. If it is legally dissolved, its property and assets could be seized.

 

As the toll in Friday's clashes rose to 173, the Brotherhood on Saturday called for a week of protests.

 

Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie's son Ammar Badie was among dozens shot dead in Cairo on Friday.

 

Since Wednesday, over 800 people have died in clashes that erupted after security forces stormed two camps set up by Morsi loyalists in Cairo, to protest his ouster on July 3.

 

After Friday's clashes, scores of protesters took those killed and wounded to Al-Fateh mosque and refused to leave. Security personnel entered the mosque to negotiate with protesters but the Brotherhood rejected a proposal to allow women to leave.

 

Protesters inside the mosque said they feared leaving because there were "thugs" with the security forces outside.

 

Speaking to Al Jazeera by phone from inside Al-Fateh mosque before it was stormed by security forces, Omaima Halawa -- the daughter of the imam of Ireland's biggest mosque -- had said there were about 700 people, including women and children, inside.

 

The interior ministry said 1,004 Morsi supporters were arrested after protests on Friday, dubbed the "Friday of Rage" by the Brotherhood.

 

Authorities also arrested the brother of Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, a security official said.

Mohammed al-Zawahiri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza. 

Image: A person points to the second floor of the mosque during clashes with supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi inside a room of al-Fath mosque in Cairo ' Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

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