Reports said the number of casualties was close to 100 killed, but the Egyptian Interior Ministry said the figure was exaggerated. The ministry said police arrested 200 pro-Mursi protesters in the operation.
Various news sources reported claims by the Brotherhood that the number of people killed was more than 100, some going as high as 500, but the figures could not be verified. Reuters said the number of those killed was “at least 30.”
The BBC said the Egyptian Interior Ministry on Wednesday denied police caused deaths by using live ammunition. It quoted the ministry as saying “security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts.”
The Interior Ministry issued a warning two weeks ago that it would clear the protest areas unless all protesters went home. Supporters of the ousted president had been occupying two two squares since shortly after Mursi was deposed by the military after massive street protests at the beginning of July.
Meanwhile, Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority in the Egypt, is expected to start talks on Wednesday with different parties to discuss the resolution of the political crisis in the country.
A source at Al-Azhar, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the sheikh of Azhar, will hold a meeting with a number of national figures which proposed initiatives to resolve the current impasse in Egypt, in order to reach a formula for an agreement between all parties to resolve the crisis.”
The source added that “a 5-hour closed meeting was held at the Al-Azhar headquarters which was attended by the Al-Azhar sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb and his advisers, in order to contact various parties and reach and agreed formula, which will be presented on Wednesday.” He said the Brotherhood were invited to the meeting.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said on Tuesday the Brotherhood were prepared to participate, but only if the meetings were held “on the basis of restoring legitimacy.” He added that “the Muslim Brotherhood will object to any initiative by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb because he supported the ouster of Mohamed Mursi.”
In another development, interim president Adly Mansour on Tuesday announced the appointment of new governors in Egypt in place of those appointed by deposed president Mohamed Mursi. The move angered Mursi supporters, who also criticized the presence of 17 former military officers among the ranks of the new governors, saying that the army was seeking to monopolize political power.
In the meantime, the United States on Monday called on the Egyptian government to end “all political detentions” without pointing directly to deposed president Mursi. Deputy State Department spokeswoman Mary Harf told AFP “our position has not changed. We continue to call for an end to detentions which are politically motivated, and we stress that Egypt is capable of overcoming this crisis.”