Eight people died in all-night clashes at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam, state television reported Monday, at the day that marked nationwide protests demanding the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi.
Following a relatively calm day in Moqattam, protesters started attacking the premises, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails until it caught fire.
Members of the group inside the headquarters started firing live ammunition, according to Mada Masr’s reporter, who also noticed a variety of arms held by protesters including guns. All lights were shut off in the surrounding streets.
According to this reporter, the protest started in the nearby Nafoura Square, as part of the nationwide June 30 demonstrations calling for the end of Morsi’s one-year rule. Protesters slammed the president’s quest to give ultimate control to his group, the Brotherhood.
Then protesters moved closer to the headquarters and started the attack. State run Al-Ahram newspapers reported that some stormed the headquarters and took furniture and computers. It also reported that protesters removed the Brotherhood sign from the building and replaced it with the Egyptian flag amidst chants.
A police officer on the scene told Mada Masr that he came independently because he thought the Brotherhood was attacking the protesters and he wanted to defend them.
Earlier on the day, there was little to no activity near the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the eastern suburb of Cairo.
In anticipation of violence expected later this evening, precautions were taken to fortify the building. But for those living nearby, such as 56-year-old Ahmed Naguib, the additional security measures only make the Muslim Brotherhood look bad.
Despite his sprained ankle and reliance of crutches, when Naguib saw the sandbags filling up the windows of the Brotherhood headquarters this morning, he decided to walk to the building to voice his concerns.
“You guys are Egyptians in Egypt, and look at the situation you put yourselves in,” he said to the young Brothers at the foot of the entrance. He asked to speak with someone in charge of security, but was told by the one of the Brotherhood youth, “The big man is in Beni Suef and Morsi is at home.”
Soon after, Naguib was let in and given a chair, but he claims that he “got nowhere” while trying to speak to the young Brothers who granted him entrance into the headquarters.
He went on to mention that the interior of the building was packed with what looked like “chemistry or physics students with laptops.”
“How do you feel when not a single high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood official decided to be here with you today?” Naguib asked several employees while inside. He received no response to his query.
Meanwhile, 51-year-old Moqattam resident Mohamed Fatah has been circling around the headquarters on his motorcycle all day, waiting for the protestors to appear.
“I have a full tank of gas,” he says as he proudly pats his motorcycle. “God willing, by tonight this building will be a pile of ashes.”
Meanwhile, several tuk tuks and super market delivery units continue to bring what looks like cheese and bread to the back gate. One driver said that he tried to speak with Brothers inside as he delivered the order, but got no response other than, “We’ve said all we have to say.”
Shortly thereafter, an opposition march of about 200 people from Zilzal, an area within Moqattam, began marking towards Nafoura Square, chanting “Depart,” amid a cacophony of horns and fireworks.