LONDON (Reuters) - Egypt’s ambassador to Britain said a crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi was not excessive and that protesters had portrayed themselves as victims and had shot one another dead in some cases.
Dismissing some reports of Wednesday’s crackdown as false, Ambassador Ashraf ElKholy told a news conference that some protesters had been armed and that security forces had had every right to respond in the way that they did.
“They (protesters) got what they wanted, they showed they were the victims,” he said. When asked whether he was suggesting that some protesters had shot one other, he said: “Yes”.
Egypt’s government says 578 people were killed and thousands wounded in the worst day of civil violence in the modern history of the most populous Arab state.
International condemnation rained down on Egypt’s military-backed rulers for ordering the storming of pro-Mursi protest camps after dawn on Wednesday, six weeks after the army overthrew the country’s first freely elected leader.
Britain’s Foreign Office summoned ElKholy on Wednesday to express “deep concern” about the violence and condemn the use of force against the protesters.
In his news conference, the ambassador showed footage of the clashes which he said backed up his assertion that the protesters had been armed.
“It shows it’s not that simple and innocent,” he said.
Security forces had used teargas and water cannon first and had issued plenty of warnings, he said, saying they had only responded with live ammunition in self-defense after protesters had opened fire on them.
The security response had been “so human and well organized,” he added.
Offering his condolences to anyone who had lost a loved one in the violence, he said that the figure of more than 500 people killed should not be misinterpreted.
“It’s all around Egypt. Some of them they are far away from the demonstration areas, some of them are civilians, some of them are civil servants. So this number doesn’t reflect that all of them are victims of the protest. They are victims from the terror that has (been) demonstrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Reporting By Andrew Osborn and Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Robin Pomeroy