Egypt: clash at military building leaves 34 dead

SARAH EL DEEB

CAIRO (AP) — At least 34 people were killed Monday in clashes outside a military building in Cairo where supporters of the former president were holding a sit-in, an Egyptian health ministry official said.

Ministry spokesman Khaled el-Khatib said initial reports also indicated at least 300 were wounded, although he gave no details on the circumstances of the killings.

Military spokesmen said gunmen opened fire on troops at the building, killing at least five supporters of Mohammed Morsi and one officer.

A spokesman from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and a witness at the scene however said military forces opened fire at dawn on the protesters outside the Republican Guard building. The different accounts could not be reconciled.

Satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera showed footage from a nearby field hospital of at least six dead bodies laid out on the ground, some with severe wounds. A medic from the area, Hesham Agami, said ambulances were unable to transport more than 200 wounded to hospitals because the military had blocked off the roads.

Al-Shaimaa Younes, who was at the sit-in, said military troops and police forces opened fire on the protesters during early morning prayers. "They opened fire with live ammunition and lobbed tear gas," she said by telephone. "There was panic and people started running. I saw people fall."

Women and children had been among the protesters, she said.

Morsi supporters have been holding rallies and a sit-in outside the Republican Guard building since the military deposed Morsi during massive protests against him. The military chief replaced Morsi with an interim leader, until presidential elections are held. But Morsi's supporters refuse to recognize the interim leader and insist Morsi be reinstated. Besides the Republican Guard sit-in, they are also holding thousands-strong daily rallies at a nearby mosque.

Morsi's opponents are also holding rival rallies. They say the former president lost his legitimacy by mismanaging the country and not ruling democratically, leading to a mass revolt that called on the army to push him from office.

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Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report