World Bulletin / News Desk
The National Council for Human Rights, Egypt's state-run rights watchdog, announced the results on Wednesday of its long-awaited report on last August's bloody dispersal of a main protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
According to Nasser Amin, a council member who announced the council's findings, protesters had initiated the aggression against security forces shortly after the latter besieged Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and announced through loudspeakers that protesters could leave through certain "secure corridors."
Speaking at a press conference in Cairo Wednesday afternoon, Amin said that the day-long operation had left 632 dead, mostly civilians caught in the crossfire between armed elements "planted among peaceful protesters" in the square and security forces.
He added that eight policemen had been among the casualties and denied that military forces had taken part in the dispersal, maintaining that they had only secured the "surrounding area."
According to Amin, clashes erupted shortly after security forces began asking protesters to leave through designated safe corridors, between 6am and 7am.
However, "fierce clashes" soon erupted after a police officer was shot and four soldiers injured by gunfire that emanated from inside the sit-in, Amin claimed.
Amin showed a simulation of the operation's timeline, during which he asserted that the heaviest clashes had taken place before a 1pm truce when safe passages were reopened to protesters wishing to leave.
"Security forces maintained proportionate use of arms against those used by armed elements [inside the square]," Amin announced.
"However," he added, "they [security forces] failed to maintain a portion of its restraint with regards to the intensity of firing."
Amin went on to say that ambulances could not enter the square until the operation wound down at around 6pm, due to heavy violence earlier as security forces were met with "armed resistance" from inside the square.
During the press conference, Amin showed footage he said was taken by residents of the surrounding buildings and which were broadcast for the first time. The videos featured unidentified gunmen firing and ducking between buildings and cars, which Nasser said was evidence that the sit-in included armed elements.
While the report maintained that clashes erupted only after security forces were attacked, Amin said that security forces had failed to secure the safe passages they said they had provided to peaceful protesters and that security forces had left only 25 minutes for protesters wishing to leave, which the council found insufficient.
The report went on to call for an independent investigation into the incident and condemn "incitement campaigns" against protesters by pro-government media in the run-up to the dispersal.
The dispersal came a few weeks after Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, was removed by the army following demonstrations against his one year in office. The Egyptian government then launched a sweeping, sustained crackdown on his supporters, of which the Rabaa dispersal is seen as a turning point.
Final Istanbul communique calls on world to recognize East Jerusalem as occupied capital of Palestinian state
Since mid-October, Peshmerga have withdrawn from vast majority of ‘disputed’ parts of Iraq, Kurdish official says
Nearly 63 percent of 2,000 American participants oppose moving US Embassy to Jerusalem, survey indicates
Tensions continue to mount in occupied territories following US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Defeat leaves Republicans with razor thin 51-49 majority in Senate
President Donald Trump has not changed his position on North Korea but does not oppose efforts to initiate talks
'Trump you failed to protect your nation,' Akayed Ullah allegedly wrote on Facebook
Vast areas have been destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated and thousands of firefighters are working around the clock.
Trade dispute ends Boeing’s CAN$19 billion bid to replace aging CF-18s fighters
One third of those detained are minors, Palestinian activists say
ISIL has recently suffered a string of defeats in Iraq and Syria
Turkish deputy premier says some leading Greek Cypriots say they would prefer to 'drink poison' than use Turkish water
'I want to shoot a movie in Jerusalem when it is liberated,' says Nawras Abu Saleh
After meeting in Ottawa with officials from the nation's 10 provinces and three territories, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he has agreed to give the provinces 75 percent of the monies.
Maduro's ruling socialists triumphed as expected in mayoral polls Sunday, taking 300 of the country's 335 mayorships after a boycott by the main opposition parties.
US president revises space agency’s policy, undoing Obama’s concentration on Mars