Egyptian army soldiers take their positions on top of their armored vehicle to guard the entrances of Tahrir square, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 8, 2013. Egyptian military officials said gunmen killed at least five supporters of the former president when people tried to storm a military building in Cairo. The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to brief reporters, also said a group had tried to storm the headquarters of the Republican Guard. He added that those killed had been supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi camped outside the building in protest at his overthrow. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
CAIRO — Egyptian soldiers and police have clashed with Islamists protesting the president’s ouster, in bloodshed that killed at least 40 people, according to government officials and witnesses.
One witness says gunmen loyal to the ousted Mohammed Morsi, including some on the roof of a nearby mosque, opened fire first. Morsi’s supporters say the troops fired on protesters as they performed early morning prayers.
Mirna el-Helbawi, a 21-year-old university student who lives in an apartment overlooking the scene, says the gunbattle followed clashes between the two sides in which rocks and tear gas were used.
The Morsi supporters have been staging a sit-in outside a military building.
A military spokesman says gunmen attempted to storm the building at dawn, prompting the clashes. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts.