Violence Continues in Egypt; Gunfire Outside Four Seasons Cairo

The New York Times is reporting dozens of new deaths in renewed clashes today as thousands of followers of the Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets of Cairo and other cities in Egypt. The story notes that police officers have been authorized to use lethal force if threatened.

Witnesses spoke of gunfire over a main overpass in Cairo and at a downtown square as clashes erupted and police officers lobbed tear gas canisters. About 30 bodies were laid out in a mosque in Ramses Square, which was being used as a makeshift field hospital as the injured were brought in from clashes that included gunfire nearby.

Fatalities were also reported from protests in other parts of Cairo and in the city of Ismailia near the Suez Canal, and fighting erupted in Fayoum and in Alexandria. It is important to note that many of the gunmen are wearing civilian clothes, making it difficult to know who is on what side. 

Cairo has been under military lockdown and a state of emergency, and the U.S. State Department has issued a strongly worded travel warning for citizens planning to visit Egypt or already there.

Britain's Foreign Office has also advised against "all but essential travel to the country," according to the Guardian, except for the Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab. The article notes that the Egyptian ministry of state for antiquities has closed all archaeological sites and museums across the country.

British Airways told the paper that it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening, into the dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been imposed across the capital and other major areas. A British Airways spokesperson added that the airline is offering customers the option of rebooking to a later date, or to another destination.

According to posts and video on Twitter, a luxury hotel in Cairo may be under attack by the Muslim Brotherhood. A video posted to YouTube depicts a violent protest outside the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, including gunfire. (Warning: The video contains disturbing images.) Photographs seemed to depict the hotel on fire, but a reporter with Agence France-Presse in the Middle East, posted to Twitter that hotel staff have denied any violence inside the building. 

Update: Four Seasons contacted us via Twitter. "Employees & guests [at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza] are safe. Demonstrations have passed in close proximity & we continue to monitor the situation."

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