Egyptian security forces stormed two massive makeshift camps filled with ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters, bulldozing tents and escorting away hundreds of protesters.
Within three hours of the raid, forces had cleared the smaller of the two camps — the Nahda camp, near the Cairo University campus.
But the larger protest — near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo — has proven trickier, with forces facing heavy resistance. The military called in its special forces.
In the chaos of the raids, it was impossible to verify the claims and counter claims of casualties.
The Muslim Brotherhood said 200 Morsi supporters were killed and more than 8 000 injured.
The Health ministry said 15 protesters were killed and 203 wounded as of Wednesday morning. It also said five security officials died and 29 others were injured while trying to disperse the protesters.
Medics were treating scores of injured people wearing gas masks and swimming goggles to protect themselves from tear gas.
Security forces are said to be armed with machine guns, M16 rifles and AK47s and are reported to have been firing on crowds.
Although the smaller of the camps has been cleared, violence broke out at the larger of the two camps.
The government blocked all roads leading to the Rabaa camp and suspended rail service to Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed the suspension was an attempt to prevent more of its members from streaming into the city.
But throngs of Morsi supporters flooded a bridge leading to Rabaa al-Adawiya square on foot, video from state-run Nile TV showed. Some of the protesters clashed with security forces.
The violence is the latest indication that the country could be heading for an all-out civil war after weeks of clashes between pro-Morsi protestors and security forces following the ousting of the president.
Two years of tension: From Mubarak to Morsi and beyond
January 25-Feb 11 2011: Egyptians stage nationwide demonstrations against the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who led the country for nearly three decades.
The 18-day “revolution”, launched by secular and leftist youth, draws in a wide spectrum, including the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Hundreds of protesters are killed as Mubarak and his allies try to crush the uprising.
Feb 11 2011: Mubarak steps down and turns power over to the military. Two days later, the body of top generals, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, dissolves parliament and suspends the constitution, meeting two key demands of protesters.
June 16-17 2011: Egyptians vote in the presidential run-off between Mohammed Morsi and Shafiq.The generals issue a “constitutional declaration” giving themselves sweeping authorities and limiting the powers of the next president. Morsi emerges as the victor, with 51,7% of the vote.
June 30 2011: Morsi takes his formal oath of office before the Supreme Constitutional Court, a day after reading a symbolic oath in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the revolution.
Aug 12 2011: In a bold move, Morsi orders the retirement of the top Mubarak-era leadership of the military and cancels the military’s last constitutional decree, taking back the powers that the generals gave themselves. The move was seen as way to curb the military’s role in political affairs, but it also gave Morsi the power to legislate in the absence of parliament.
Nov 22 2011: Morsi unilaterally decrees greater authorities for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review and barring the courts from dissolving the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament. The move came just ahead of court decisions that could have dissolved the bodies.
The move sparks days of protests, with clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents. At one point, some 200 000 people rally in Tahrir Square, with some of the first chants for Morsi to “leave”.
Dec 4 2011: More than 100 000 protesters march on the presidential palace, demanding the cancellation of the referendum and the writing of a new constitution.
The next day, Islamists attack a peaceful anti-Morsi sit-in outside the palace, sparking all-out street battles that leave at least 10 dead. Days later, Morsi rescinds his initial decrees, but maintains the date of the referendum.
Jan 25 2013: Hundreds of thousands hold protests in Tahrir Square and nationwide against Morsi on the second anniversary of the start of the revolt against Mubarak and clashes erupt in many places.
Jan 26: Residents of the city of Port Said stage protests, angered by a court ruling convicting and sentencing to death a group of local soccer fans for a 2012 stadium riot. Police crack down hard in Port Said, killing more than 40 protesters, and in outrage the city and others nearby go into near revolt. Much of the anger is focused at Morsi, who praised the police for their crackdown.
Feb-March: Protests continue in Port Said and other cities for weeks, with dozens more dying in clashes, and some police units around the country go on strike. Brotherhood youth and their opponents fight in the streets outside the group’s main Cairo headquarters.
Jun 30: Millions of Egyptians take to the streets in Cairo and other cities calling for Morsi to step down in a massive display of anger and frustration with the Islamist leader. The demonstrations are largely peaceful, although 16 people, half of them in clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters, are killed in protest-related violence nationwide. Organisers vow to keep up the protests until Morsi resigns.
July 1: Demonstrations continue and Egypt’s military issues an ultimatum for the two sides to come to a resolution within 48 hours or it will impose its own solution.
Jul 3: Egyptian media reports that Morsi will either be sacked or forced to stand down as the army’s deadline for a resolution approaches. The head of the Egyptian army, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi later declares on national TV that Morsi has been ousted from power, prompting a wave of celebrations across the country.
Jul 4: Judge in Egypt’s supreme court, Adly Mansour, sworn in as interim president in Cairo.
Jul 5: “Friday of Rage” protests spark violent clashes that last into the night, leaving 36 dead and more than 1 000 people injured.
Jul 7: More than 50 are killed and 435 injured in clashes between supporters of ousted Morsi and armed forces at the Republican Guard building in Cairo. Armed forces claim that they opened fire because a “terrorist group” had attempted to storm the building.
Jul 9: Interim head of state Mansour sets a timetable for next year for elections in the country leaving Egypt facing months of protests.
Jul 12: Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters gather in Cairo and say they will occupy a square in the city until Morsi is reinstated as president.
Jul 15: At least seven killed in clashes between protestors and police in Cairo. A further 261 are injured when locals and Muslim Brotherhood supporters clash.
Jul 26: More than 120 people were reportedly killed in another night of violence in Cairo, according to the Muslim Brotherhood. Security forces were said to have opened fire on a round-the-clock vigil for Morsi shortly before pre-dawn prayers.