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Friday, July 5, 2013

Social Media Updates on Clashes in Cairo

Chaotic clashes broke out on Friday night between supporters and opponents of the ousted Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, in a riverside neighborhood of downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square, drawing thousands of people into the streets and shutting down a major bridge spanning the Nile.

The violence appeared to have started shortly after sunset, when a large Islamist march moved across downtown Cairo’s Sixth of October Bridge in the direction of Tahrir Square, where Mr. Morsi’s opponents held a large rally on Friday, according to a report by The Associated Press. The report said that 10 people were killed and 210 were injured in protests and clashes nationwide on Friday, but the actual toll of the clashes was not clear.

Ayman Mohyeldin, a correspondent for NBC News, posted a picture on Twitter of what he described as “thousands” of pro-Morsi protesters crossing Cairo’s Sixth of October Bridge at sunset, shortly before violence erupted in the area.

Sherine Tadros, a correspondent for Al Jazeera English, watched the street battle unfold after nightfall from a nearby office building in a corner of the neighborhood known as Maspero, and posted regular updates on Twitter.

For almost two hours, neither police nor military forces intervened as the two sides battled each other with rocks, fireworks and guns, leading some on social media to bitterly mock the security forces, including an activist, Ahmed Aggour.

Tarek Shalaby, a prominent activist who was among the crowd of Mr. Morsi’s opponents, shared pictures and observations about the clashes in a series of updates posted to Twitter. The most pitched battles appeared to be on Sixth of October Bridge, he said, and near the Ramses Hilton, a towering luxury hotel.

Mr. Shalaby, an activist against human rights abuses under Egypt’s previous military government, also expressed dismay that many anti-Morsi protesters were chanting slogans in support of the defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who announced Mr. Morsi’s ouster in a nationally televised address on Wednesday.

Adham Abdel Salam, a presenter on Nile FM, an Egyptian radio station, was also present among the anti-Morsi protesters and documented his experience of the clashes through a series of updates posted to Twitter.

Mr. Abdel Salam said that he believed he had seen a protester killed, and also accused Mr. Morsi’s supporters of firing live ammunition at their opponents, but neither claim could be independently verified.