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Conflicting reports about boy’s death during Mahalla clashes

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Clashes in the Gharbeya city resume for the second night; Al-Nour Party’s headquarters attacked

Clashes erupted outside the Salafi Al-Nour Party’s headquarters in Mahalla Saturday night, causing conflicting reports about the death of a 12-year-old boy.

The Gharbeya governorate’s industrial city (Mahalla) has been suffering from unrest since Friday night when anti-government protesters clashed with Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi in front of a police station.

Saturday’s clashes which started as an anti-Morsi protest arrived outside the headquarters of Al-Nour Party. Ahmed Abdel Qader, an Al-Dostour Party founding member who took part in the protest, claimed that some of the protesters began pelting the headquarters with rocks.

“I’m not sure if the assailants were truly protesters or people who infiltrated the protest to incite violence,” Abdel Qader said. He added that the protesters were worked up due to the attacks that they were subjected to the night before at the hands of Islamist protesters.

Mahmoud Haroon, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists who took part in the protest, claimed the protestors were attacked first, shot by assailants standing on the roof of Al-Nour Party’s headquarters. He added that the gunshots caused the protesters to attack the headquarters and burn some parts of it down.

Hossam Ragab, Al-Nour Party’s parliamentary coordinator, said the party refused to point fingers regarding the assailants. Ragab stated that the headquarters were attacked with Molotov cocktails and rocks by a group of unidentified men.

“The assailants’ mission was clear,” Ragab said. “They were there to attack the party’s headquarters and thus drag the party into the current political disputes between the pro-Morsi movements and the opposition.”

Ragab claimed that the assailants fired gunshots which eventually hit a 12-year-old boy. The boy, Al-Sayed Gamal, was among the residents who took to the street to help defend the headquarters, Ragab added.

Haroon claimed that Gamal was taking part in the protest when he was shot down by the Islamist protesters.

Mohamed Sharshar, the Ministry of Health deputy in Gharbeya, denied the death of Gamal, reported state-run Al-Ahram. Sharshar stated that Al-Mahalla hospital received no corpses for those who were involved in the clashes on Saturday.

Ahmed Habash, the Al-Nour Party’s secretary in Mahalla, said in a press statement that money and other contents in the headquarters were stolen during Saturday’s attack.

Ragab accused the security forces of failing to prevent the clashes. He stated that it took the police a long time to reach the scene of the clashes and end them. Special police forces arrived in armoured cars and resolved the fighting. The forces then roamed neighbouring streets to make sure calm was restored.

Hatem Othman, Gharbeya security director, stated that policemen do their duty to protect all citizens, denying the party’s accusations, reported state-run news agency MENA.

Al-Nour Party’s spokesperson Nader Bakkar stated that the party would pursue a legal investigation into the attacks on the headquarters. Bakkar stated the party would not throw accusations, adding that they are on very good terms with all other political movements.

“The party won’t be dragged into a struggle that will ruin the entire nation,” Bakkar said.

Clashes erupted outside the Mahalla police station Friday night after an Islamist protester attacked an opposition protest. The Islamist protester was allegedly turned in to the security forces for possession of weapons, a move which prompted a group of Islamist protesters to surround the police station to call for his release.


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