|Dozens More Killed During Egypt's 'Day of Rage'|
|By MOLLY HUNTER (@MollyMHunter)||Aug 16, 2013, 6:58 AM|
With bodies still being counted from the unprecedented bloodshed earlier this week, at least 100 more people were killed today around Egypt as clashes erupted during protests billed as a "Day of Rage."
In the capital, thousands of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi hit the streets after Friday prayers to march towards Cairo's Ramses Square. In a statement sent out to supporters Friday morning, the Muslim Brotherhood called on "the great Egyptian people to gather in all revolutionary squares on the Friday of Rage."
The statement continued, "Afterwards, all marches will meet at the nearest intersection, and will all head to Ramses Square. Meanwhile, million-man marches will be held in all other Egyptian governorates."
In preparation for the marches, Egyptian security forces positioned guards alongside Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) at Ramses Square.
Violent clashes erupted as the throngs of protesters arrived, live gunfire rang out and military helicopters circled overhead. The nearby makeshift field hospital in downtown Cairo told ABC News workers there had counted at least 100 bodies, but that number may climb.
The mostly unarmed protesters were chanting anti-military slogans and "Execute Sissi," referring to the army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, who took control when Morsi was removed from power.
Dramatic videos emerged of protesters fleeing the barrage of gunfire, and some flinging themselves off bridges.
Today's violence may hint at what's to come. Late Friday night, the Muslim Brotherhood announced a week of daily demonstrations in every square in Cairo and nationwide. The so-called "Week of Departure" kicks off Saturday.
Wednesday was the single deadliest day in Egypt's modern history. Egypt's health ministry has counted at least 700 bodies, but the Muslim Brotherhood said the death toll was in the thousands.
Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad had announced on Twitter Thursday night that rallies will depart from all mosques in Cairo and head towards the city's central Ramses Square today. Haddad said the "Friday of Anger" would kick off following afternoon prayers.
"We will have protests in every single square in the country," said Mohamed Soltan, 25, an Egyptian-American political activist working with the affiliated Anti-Coup Alliance. "If they want to kill 10,000 of us or 20,000 of us, let them."
The Anti-Coup Alliance released a statement this morning billing today as "The Day of Rage," a nod to Jan. 28, 2011, the day when police abandoned their posts and fought alongside protesters to bring down Egypt's longtime strongman, Hosni Mubarak.
Meanwhile, Tamarod, the youth group instrumental in President Morsi's ouster, released a threatening statement urging Egyptians to form civilian vigilante groups.
"Am I going to be back out on the street? You better bet on it," Soltan, whose arm was in a sling from a bullet wound, told ABC News.
The 2012 graduate of Ohio State University described himself as a moderate Muslim.
"I'm not hardcore Islamist," he said. "But I wouldn't call myself a liberal."
Soltan has been living in Cairo's Nasr City since Morsi's ouster, acting as one of the main liaisons between the Brotherhood, Anti-Coup Movement and foreign press. In his Gucci glasses and with his iPhone 5 always in-hand, he moves seamlessly between meetings with former Brotherhood ministers to strategy sessions with the Anti-Coup social media team.
At this point, he said, identifying the Brotherhood supporters as "pro-Morsi" is a narrow mischaracterization.
After Wednesday's bloodshed, "all free Egyptians will stand with us," he said. "Last week, the people criticizing the Brotherhood and the pro-Morsi supporters are today the same people now crying with us over a brother or a sister or a friend or a colleague."
But there was little evidence of broadening support on Thursday. As bodies were counted at Nasr City's Iman mosque, several thousand chanted, "The army and the police are a dirty hand!" But no million man funeral march materialized as the Brotherhood had advertised earlier in the day.
In Giza, the site of the second main sit-in dispersed Wednesday, the governorate building was torched by Islamists and two police officers were killed at a checkpoint, according to state TV.
In response, Egypt's Interior Ministry warned that police were prepared to use live ammunition if government buildings or security forces came under attack.
"The ministry has given instructions to all forces to use live ammunition in the face of any attacks on establishments or forces within the framework of the regulations of using the legitimate right of self-defense," the ministry said in a statement Thursday according to Egypt state TV.
The ministry also vowed to punish any "terrorist actions and sabotage" but did not elaborate on exactly what that would mean.
"Bring it on," said Soltan. "We'll be on the streets until Egypt gains its freedom. If the price for that is my blood, so be it."
In Islam, the dead are supposed to be buried within 24 hours, but on Thursday night, rows of covered bodies still lay in the Iman mosque covered with bags of ice to delay the inevitable decaying. As last night's newly imposed curfew began, the police moved into the mosque with tear gas, removing the remaining bodies and clearing out the families desperately searching for the bodies of their loved ones.