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Monday, August 19, 2013

Video and Images of Killings in Egypt

As my colleagues David D. Kirkpatrick and Rod Nordland in Cairo report, Egypt has seen two grisly mass killings in the last 24 hours. The government has acknowledged killing 36 Islamists in its custody under circumstances that remain unclear, and an attack by suspected militants in a remote corner of the Sinai peninsula left at least 24 police officers dead and 3 injured.

These killings are part of an unprecedented spasm of violence that has left hundreds of people dead across Egypt since last Wednesday, when more than 600 people died as security forces dispersed two protest camps supporting the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

Egyptian officials struggled on Monday to provide consistent accounts of the two mass killings. As The New York Times has reported, the authorities initially said the officers had been killed by militants who fired rocket-propelled grenades at police minibuses near Rafah, a town on Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip. Later, though, they said that militants had forced the officers off the bus, forced them to lie on the ground and then shot them to death.

Samer al-Atrush, a Cairo-based reporter for Agence France-Presse, drew attention to a picture on Twitter that he said showed several of the slain officers lying on the side of the road. Some had their hands behind their backs, and all were in civilian clothes. The image appeared to support the second official version of events.

There was also confusion over the deaths of the Islamist prisoners, who were being held at Abu Zaabal, a facility in the countryside north of Cairo. Egyptian officials said the prisoners were killed in the course of an escape attempt, while the Muslim Brotherhood said they were tear-gassed and shot in cold blood while being held in a locked police van. Egypt’s Interior Ministry changed the official account of their deaths at least three times on Sunday night, according to Mayy El Sheikh in The Times’s Cairo bureau.

Osama al-Mahdy, a Cairene lawyer, posted a series of graphic pictures to Twitter that he said showed the bodies of several of the prisoners killed on Sunday. Mr. Mahdy said he took the pictures himself at Zeinhom Morgue, the main morgue in Cairo. Two of the bodies appear to be blackened and burned from the shoulders up.

Graphic video posted to YouTube by an account that specializes in news-related clips about Egypt showed similar images, including one of the body of a bearded man on a dirty examining table, his head blackened and burned. There appeared to be bruises and burns on his torso, which was marked by a long autopsy scar. When asked for his opinion, the medical examiner said one word: “Torture.”

Graphic video posted to YouTube claimed to show the body of one of the men killed at Abu Zaabal prison lying on a table in Cairo’s Zeinhom Morgue.

A second video posted by the same YouTube account showed hysterical family members of the men killed on Sunday, overcome with grief in the dirty courtyard of Zeinhom Morgue.

Video posted to YouTube on Monday showed the family members of prisoners killed on Sunday overcome with grief in the courtyard of a Cairo morgue.