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Mosque in Ramses Square freed from Islamists - television

The Egyptian army has finished its operation to free the Fateh Mosque in Cairo's Ramses Square from Islamists, Al-Arabiya television said on Saturday, August 17, citing the military command.

Armed Islamists had barricaded themselves inside the mosque on Friday evening. Egyptian mass media said Muslim Brotherhood top functionaries wanted by the authorities might also have been among them. However there have been no official reports about their arrest so far.

Army troops had surrounded the mosque and engaged in negotiations with the Islamists, letting several unarmed people walk out through a security corridor from one of the exits. Crowds of people who had come to the square after the army acted quite aggressively with regard to the opposition and the military could barely hold them back to prevent lynching.

At about 2 p.m. local time, snipers had unexpectedly opened fire from the mosque's minaret at the troops and demonstrators, forcing them to retreat. Police and groups of young people found shelter behind armoured vehicles or houses in adjacent streets. Elite army units are returning fire. Helicopters are barraging over the square.

Sources in the Egyptian government said the sniper fire was sufficient enough proof that Muslim Brotherhood was using arms against the legitimate authorities.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has suggested dissolving Muslim Brotherhood following the violence it unleashed across the country, which has resulted in the death of innocent people.

Government spokesman Sherif Shawky said at a press conference in Cairo that Muslim Brotherhood leaders had encouraged attacks on government organisations and police stations, pogroms and acts of arson in offices and churches. Their activists overstepped all permissible limits for street protests and endangered public security, Shawky said.

He said the prime minister had instructed relevant ministers to prepare legal arguments for dissolving Muslim Brotherhood.

Shawky quoted the Health Ministry's data as indicating that 173 people had been killed, including 57 policemen, and 1,300 civilians and army personnel injured in Cairo and other cities over the past 24 hours.

Muslim Brotherhood top leader Mohammed Badie's son, Ammar, 37, was killed in Cairo on Friday, August 16, during clashes between the supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and security forces, the Anatolia News Agency reported.

Ammar Badie received two gunshot wounds in the head and was taken to a military hospital near Ramses Square. Doctors pronounced his dead last night, the agency quoted Ammar Badie's lawyer as saying.

It said that Mohammed Badie's house in the southern part of Cairo had been set on fire by the opponents of Islamists.

[Source: Itar Tass News Agency, Cairo, 17Aug13]

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Crisis in Egypt
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