Overnight the (pre) civil war in Egypt took a turn for the worse when the local military conducted the political and religious equivalent of shooting inside a hornets' nest, or rather at the al-Fatah mosque off Ramses square, where up to a 1000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the deposed president had been barricaded. Subsequently, security forces rounded up protesters inside and forcefully dragged them out. As the Telegraph videos below suggest, the sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.
Egypt's official news agency MENA reported that gunmen opened fire on security forces from the mosque's minaret. Local television stations broadcast live footage of soldiers firing assault rifles at the minaret. It goes without saying that firing on religious protesters inside a sanctum of a mosque will hardly derail the country's flaming train ride straight into civil war, but it also begs the question: why is Egypt so intent on culminating with a civil war, split along religious lines, that will be the bloodiest in decades, involve over 80 million people and is sure to lead to unprecedented death and destruction. Cui bono, aside from the Fed's balance sheet, of course?
Several videos of the latest massacre:
More from the Telegraph:
Egyptian soldiers entered the mosque on Saturday morning. The private Egyptian ONTV Live television channel showed the soldiers entering, while Al-Jazeera's Egypt affiliate streamed footage on its website of the soldiers inside the mosque.
They appeared to be negotiating with the protesters, attempting to persuade them to leave.
A protester inside the mosque told AFP by telephone that they were demanding they not be arrested, or attacked by hostile civilians who appeared to be gathered outside the mosque.
Both sides accused the other of opening fire but the gunfire then ended, one person inside the mosque told AFP.
"Thugs tried to storm the mosque but the men barricaded the doors," she said.
Security officials quoted by the MENA news agency said that "armed elements" had been shooting at security forces and police from inside the mosque.
Mr Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) pleaded for another "massacre" to be avoided after at least 578 people were killed across the country Wednesday when police cleared protest camps set up by loyalists of the former president deposed by the military on July 3.
The interior ministry stated on Saturday that 1,004 Muslim Brotherhood "elements" were arrested during Friday's protests.
Friday's violence erupted shortly after midday prayers when tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters answered the group's call to protest across Egypt in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency following the bloodshed earlier this week.
Armed civilians manned impromptu checkpoints throughout the capital, banning Brotherhood marches from approaching and frisking anyone wanting to pass through. At one, residents barred ambulances and cars carrying wounded from Cairo's main battleground, Ramses Square, from reaching a hospital.
Several of the protesters said they were ready to die, writing their names and relatives' phone numbers on one another's chests and undershirts in case they were killed in Friday's clashes.
Tawfik Dessouki, a Brotherhood supporter, said he was fighting for "democracy" and against the military's ouster of Morsi.
"I am here for the blood of the people who died. We didn't have a revolution to go back to a police and military state again and to be killed by the state," he said during a march headed toward Ramses Square.
Update: the hornets nest has been cleared out. Now the retaliations begin:
#BREAKING: Islamists cleared from Cairo mosque: security source
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 17, 2013