CAIRO — Egyptian authorities today significantly raised the death toll from clashes the previous day between police and supporters of the ousted Islamist president, saying more than 500 people died and laying bare the extent of the violence that swept much of the country.
Despite the government’s declaration of a nighttime curfew and a state of emergency, violence continued into the next day. Angry men presumed to be supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi stormed and torched two buildings housing the provincial government of Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo.
The death toll, which stood at 525, according to the latest Health Ministry figures, makes Wednesday by far the deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime ruler and autocrat Hosni Mubarak — a grim milestone that does not bode well for the future of a nation roiled in turmoil and divisions for the past 2 1/2 years.
Health Ministry spokesman Khaled el-Khateeb put the number of the injured on Wednesday at 3,717.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails, put the death toll at a staggering 2,600 and the injured at around 10,000 — figures that are extremely high in light of footage by regional and local TV networks, as well as The Associated Press.
In today’s violence at the Giza provincial governor’s office, Associated Press reporters saw the buildings — a two-story colonial style villa and a four-story administrative building —ablaze. The Giza government offices are located on the road that leads to the Pyramids.
State TV blamed supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi for the fire.
Meanwhile, near the site of one of the smashed encampments of Morsi’s supporters in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district, an Associated Press reporter today saw dozens of blood-soaked bodies stored inside a mosque. The bodies were wrapped in sheets and still unclaimed by families.
Relatives at the scene were uncovering the faces in an attempt to identify their loved ones. Many complained that authorities were preventing them from obtaining permits to bury their dead.
El-Khateeb said 202 of the 525 were killed in the Nasr City protest camp, but it was not immediately clear whether the bodies at the mosque were included in that figure. Another Health Ministry spokesman, Mohammed Fathallah, said he had no knowledge of the bodies at the el-Iman mosque.
Victims’ names were scribbled on white sheets covering their bodies, some of which were charred. Posters of Morsi were scattered on the floor.
“They accuse us of setting fire to ourselves. Then, they accuse us of torturing people and dumping their bodies. Now, they kill us and then blame us,” screamed a woman in a head-to-toe black niqab.