People Are Jumping Off Bridges to Escape the Fighting In Egypt

Friday morning in Egypt has sadly unfolded the way were expecting, with more large protest marches being met by deadly force from the police and army. 

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Friday in Egypt has sadly unfolded the way everyone was expecting, with more large protest marches being met by deadly force from the police and army. There have already been more than a dozen reported deaths in demonstrations around the country (UPDATE: AFP now puts the number at 70 dead) and the "day of rage" that had been organized by supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi is only growing in intensity.

The fiercest fighting appears to be Cairo, in and around the area of Ramses Square, which is overpassed by the October 6 Bridge, one of the main thoroughfares that slices through the city. Thousands of protesters have been marching down the elevated road, which provides a vantage point over the city, but also exposes the crowds to assault from police. There have been numerous eyewitness reports of people firing guns from the bridge, though there are disputes about whether the gunfire is coming from Muslim Brotherhood supporters or the police (or the police disguised as MB supporters.)

What does seem clear is that police barricades and roadblocks have trapped hundreds of people on the October 6 Bridge and the nearby May 15 Bridge. With nowhere to go to escape tear gas and gunfire, many of the marchers leapt from the bridge, falling the equivalent of a few stories in the hopes of saving themselves from the violence.

These are the same bridges where a police vehicle fell on Wednesday severely injuring (and possibly killing) the officers inside. Initial reports were that the vehicle was shoved off the bridge by protestors, but a new video emerged yesterday that shows the car drove off the bridge by accident. After it was rammed by another vehicle and chased down by the crowd. That is perhaps a meaningless distinction to some.

Update, 4:30 p.m.:  A video appearing to show a pro-Morsi protester, hands in the air, gunned down by military vehicles, is doing a lot of the talking today on the human cost of the current violence in Egypt.

Meanwhile, here's a first-hand account of the aftermath of the day's events in Egypt from the Guardian:

At Ramses Square in central Cairo the bodies were piled up on the green – and later bloodstained – carpet of the al-Fath mosque. Earlier, after midday prayers, thousands of pro-Morsi supporters had gathered nearby to protest the state-led massacre of hundreds of their friends at two pro-Morsi camps on Wednesday, in what the Muslim Brotherhood had styled as a 'Day of Rage'.

Within hours, they were themselves the victims of yet another bloodbath at the hands of police – the second massacre of Morsi supporters in three days and the fourth in the six weeks since the army ousted Morsi on 3 July.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.