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'Hundreds dead' as Egyptian army opens fire on protesters in Cairo

'Hundreds' dead as Egyptian army opens gun fire on pro-Mohammed Morsi protesters in Cairo Close

A member of the Egyptian security forces holds up a copy of the Quran as clear they clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)

A member of the Egyptian security forces holds up a copy of the Quran as clear they clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)

AP

A wounded protester lies on the ground as Egyptian security forces clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)

A wounded protester lies on the ground as Egyptian security forces clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)

AP

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo's Mohandessin neighborhood, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, swept in Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps of supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo's Mohandessin neighborhood, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, swept in Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps of supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

AP

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

A protester puts away a copy of the Quran as the Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

A protester puts away a copy of the Quran as the Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

Egyptian security forces inspect the sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian security forces inspect the sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

In this image made from video by AP video, Egyptian security forces throw tear gas towards supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi at a sit-in in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP video)

In this image made from video by AP video, Egyptian security forces throw tear gas towards supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi at a sit-in in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP video)

AP

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo's Mohandessin neighborhood, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo's Mohandessin neighborhood, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

AP

Egyptian security forces detain protesters as they clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian security forces detain protesters as they clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

AP

A member of the Egyptian security forces holds up a copy of the Quran as clear they clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, moved on Wednesday to clear two sit-in camps by supporters of the country's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)

Heavy bursts of automatic gunfire were ringing through the streets of eastern Cairo this morning as the Egyptian authorities went to war with Islamists cowering amid the tents and alleyways of their huge protest camp in Nasr City, a suburb of the capital.

Security figures have announced they have arrested senior Muslim Brotherhood Politician El-Beltagi.

A number of leaders from the Brotherhood have also been arrested, an official announced during a broadcast.

"We have arrested a number of Brotherhood leaders but it's too early to announce their names," General Abdel Fattah Othman, a senior official in the Interior Ministry, told the privately-owned CBC TV channel.Latest estimates from the Muslim Brotherhood put the number of dead well into the hundreds.

As police helicopters hovered overhead and huge plumes of black smoke billowed into the morning sky, security forces armed with semi-automatic rifles and tear gas laid siege to the sit-in from roads surrounding the camp on several sides.

Supporters of toppled president Mohammed Morsi   who have been camped out in Nasr City for the past six weeks  – crouched behind make shift brick barricades as the live rounds crackled around the surrounding apartment blocks. Others frantically prepared Molotov cocktails hiding behind piles of sandbags which mark the outer limits of the encampment.

In the hospital at the centre of the sit-in, dead bodies were being stretchered down the central staircase on their way to the basement morgue. Injured protesters were lying on the corridor floor, moaning in pain as others were carried in from the streets outside. Agonized screams filled the hallway.

“They are savages,” said Mohammed Noaman, 22, as he showed  The Independenta mobile phone photo of a man with half his face torn off. “The police, the army, they are all dogs.”

A Reuters journalist also witnessed the military open fire and saw about 20 people being shot in the legs by soldiers.

Earlier estimates had put the number of civilians killed by security forces at 30, but the Muslim Brotherhood is now claiming that up to 500 are dead and 9,000 wounded.

At least two members of the security forces were confirmed to have died in the morning's crackdown. A senior Health Ministry official, Ahmed el-Ansari, said four people were killed and 50 injured in all at Nasr and a smaller camp in Cairo.

Belfast Telegraph