Two protesters were shot and killed Friday in Damietta after clashing with riot police, the Ministry of Interior announced.
The demonstration began after the Friday prayers but the protestors were confronted by police before the protest could gain momentum. The Ministry of Interior claimed that two protesters, Al-Sayed Abu Al-Maaty and Mohamed Al-Badawi, were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and were “planning to execute violent acts through armed demonstrations against police forces.”
The ministry claimed that the two men initiated the attack on security forces, who subsequently returned fire, killing Al-Maaty and Al-Badawi. The Ministry of Interior’s statement claimed that the two possessed firearms and ammunition. The statement alleged that Al-Badawi was wanted for in relation to 38 terrorism cases.
A captain and major from the National Security Apparatus and the Investigation Bureau of Damietta sustained minor injuries in the standoff. A civilian was shot in the hand and the leg by birdshot bullets. The three were transferred to a hospital to receive medical care. The Muslim Brotherhood commented on the killings, that riot police and “thugs” fired randomly at the protestors.
It has been a common practice for the police to respond violently to protests without abiding by the regulations of the Protest Law. According to the controversial law, the police must use water cannons and tear gas a preliminary measure when dispersing protests before resorting to birdshot and rubber bullets if the situation escalates. However many observers and activists have mentioned that police commonly begin any dispersal by firing warning shots of live ammunition.
Following the clashes, heavily armed security forces were deployed to Damietta in anticipation of more protests. Meanwhile police stations in the city were surrounded by Central Security Forces.
While the state continues to assert that all militants are members of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the group itself said that “any violence from the government” will always be met with “peace”.
Earlier Thursday, the Anti-Coup Alliance (ACA), noted supporters of deposed former president Mohamed Morsi, called upon its supporters to protest throughout the country, refusing the speech of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi when he assured that he is committed to combating enemies of the Egyptian people.
Speaking at the Strategic Development in Egypt 2030 conference Wednesday, Al-Sisi said he “will not let this country to be destroyed. I swear if anyone touches it, I will terminate him.” In response to those critical of the performance of the Egyptian state following the ouster of Morsi in July 2013, Al-Sisi said if Egyptians love their country they should “Listen to [Al-Sisi’s] words only”. ACA said it refuses such statements and that “the voice of the people is stronger”.
ACA often organises marches and demonstrations following Friday prayers. The groups refused to recognise the legitimacy of the government following Morsi’s ouster and still refuse to recognise Al-Sisi’s government.
Since the ouster of Morsi in June 2013, affiliates, supporters, and critics of Egypt’s military regime have called the 30 June uprising, that aided his removal, a “military coup”. Muslim Brotherhood supporters have taken localised political action to demand for the return of Morsi, whom they consider the legitimate president, to office.