BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt panel mostly blames Morsi supporters for Rabaa deaths

A Volkswagen van burns after being set on fire by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi during clashes with security forces in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Emad Abul Rahman)

CAIRO: A government-appointed panel said Wednesday that the deaths of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters at a protest camp in Cairo last August was mostly the fault of demonstrators who had provoked the security forces into opening fire.

It found that of the 632 people who were killed, 624 of them civilians in one of the bloodiest days in Egypt’s modern history.

But the protesters had brought it upon themselves as armed men within their ranks had shot first at the security forces and also used civilians as human shields, it said.

The findings mainly echoed the military-backed government’s version of events. But in an unusual move, the panel also placed some responsibility for the bloodshed on the security forces and said they had used disproportionate force.

The mass killings took place when the security forces moved to dismantle the protest camps set up by supporters of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi, who was overthrown by the army six weeks earlier after demonstrations against his rule.

Security forces then mounted a harsh crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The commission’s findings, announced at a news conference Wednesday, were the most detailed official account of the dispersal of Brotherhood supporters who had camped around the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in northeast Cairo for weeks – a flashpoint in the struggle between the Islamist movement and the army-backed government.

 

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