Cairo mosque still surrounded; police fire tear gas inside

CAIRO -- The siege of a mosque in Ramses Square, where more than 1,000 protesters have been holed up since Friday night, continued Saturday morning even after police broke down the front door and fired tear gas inside.

Overnight, one woman in her 30s died after she suffocated from the tear gas, said Dr. Ibrahim Al Yamani, who is in charge of documenting the casualties inside.

Those injured and killed in Friday’s bloody protest against Egypt’s military rule had been taken to Fatih mosque. Around midnight, those inside said the military and police had surrounded the mosque, which includes women, children and many injured, Al Yamani said. More than 60 people were killed in the square when police fired birdshot and live ammunition at the demonstrators.

The protest was also in response to Wednesday's crackdown, in which more than 600 people were slain when security forces dispersed two encampments supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Security forces stormed the mosque Saturday morning and entered the front hall as the protesters barricaded themselves into the rear prayer room, he said.

The demands of the police have not changed since Friday night: women and children will be allowed to evacuate, but all men will be arrested.

“The solution is for supporting rallies to descend on the square and ensure a safe exit for us from these thugs and police,” Al Yamani said. “Otherwise we expect to be arrested and abused."

About 10 prisoner vans were parked outside the mosque, he said.

State media continues to report that there were armed men from the Muslim Brotherhood inside the mosque.

On Thursday night, police surrounded another house of worship, the Iman mosque, which had been turned into a makeshift morgue for those killed in Rabaa al Adawiya square the previous day, and fired tear gas before storming it, according to news reports.

Twitter: @RajaAbdulrahim

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