Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim announced in a press conference night that 43 police personnel were killed in clashes with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during the day. He also claimed that police used a maximum level of self-restraint with the protesters.
Ibrahim said that the ministry began executing a plan to disperse the two sit-ins Wednesday morning, a plan approved by the National Defense Council and aimed at minimizing human loss.
The minister said police had clear instructions not to use weapons against protesters and only use tear gas after warning protesters via loud speakers to leave by specific routes.
He said that they were surprised when the protesters met them with firearms.
Sit-ins at Giza’s Nahda Square and around Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque have been demanding the reinstatement of Morsi since he was ousted on July 3, following mass protests from June 30. Early on Wednesday both were forcibly dispersed. The Health Ministry has put the death toll at 149, but the Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi hails has put it in the thousands.
Ibrahim said the dead police officers and conscripts included two generals, and that 211 injuries were sustained in police ranks.
He said the ministry had postponed the dispersion of the sit-ins, despite accusations that it was colluding with the Brotherhood, in order to allow for a political solution. During the past two weeks, the ministry repeatedly warned of a plan to gradually disperse the sit-ins due to the presence of arms in them.
He said that when it felt that the protesters continued to incite violence, terrorize the people, and endanger national security, it had to intervene.
Ibrahim said that in the nationwide chaos that followed the dispersal of the sit-ins, pro-Morsi protesters broke into 21 police stations, attacked seven churches, and broke into the Ministry of Finance and stole 14 money-carrying vehicles.
He added that a large number of weapons and ammunition were found at the sit-ins, including 10 machine guns, 29 shotguns, and more than 9000 bullets.
He reiterated the Health Ministry’s count of 149 civilian casualties.
Ibrahim said that the people assigned the police to protect them onand that they are committed to carrying out their mission.