At least 15 people reportedly killed as security forces launch operation to remove two anti-military sit-ins in Cairo.
Images from near Nahda Square in Giza show black smoke rising as security forces begin clearing the area [Al Jazeera]
Several people were reportedly killed as security forces started an operation to clear pro-Morsi protesters who have been camped out on the streets of Cairo since the Egyptian president was deposed by the military last month.
On Wednesday, live footage from Cairo showed smoke engulfing Nahda square - which was later completely cleared - and there were reports of tear gas and birdshot being used on supporters of the ex-president Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from power on July 3.
The Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella of pro-Morsi supporters, said in a statement that 25 were killed and dozens injured in the attack on the larger of the two protest camps in the eastern district of Nasr City.
There was no official word on casualties among the protesters in either camp, but state television said two policemen were killed and several others were injured.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, warned in a statement that the forces would deal firmly with protesters acting "irresponsibly" and said it would guarantee safe passage to those who want to leave the sites.
Reuters said at least 15 people were killed, while the Muslim Brotherhood said at least 30 people had been killed.
By mid-morning, state TV reported that security forces had finished breaking up the sit-in at Nahda Square. Bulldozers were said to have been used to uproot the camps.
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said that "this battle is much bigger than what you're seeing, and the casualties. This is a fight for the future of the country, and something that will determine the course of the Egyptian revolution that has been going on for two years now."
"No one expected this to be an easy operation. It became very clear that both sides were engaged in a battle of wills and a dangerous game of brinkmanship,"
Call to the streets
|In response to the security operation, the Muslim Brotherhood has urged Egyptians to take to the streets to "stop a massacre".|
"This is not an attempt to disperse, but a bloody attempt to crush all voices of opposition to the military coup," Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad said on Twitter.
The organisers of a protest at Rabaa al-Adawiya, where several Brotherhood leaders are staying, "is calling on Egyptians to take to the streets to stop the massacre," Haddad said.
Meanwhile, security forces also stormed Nasr City, and there were reports that snipers opened fire on protesters at Rabaa al-Adawiya square.
Security forces said the snipers are only firing tear gas.
"Many people are being killed right now ...What we can expect is only worse," said Laila, a member of Egypt's Anti-Coup Alliance, a pro-Morsi group. "What's happening now is a crime against humanity."
State media confirmed that security forces had started implementing its phased plan to disperse the protesters, and said at least two policeman had been killed during during the operation.
"I see a lot of black smoke and helicopters circling," said Al Jazeera's D. Parvaz, reporting from Cairo.
State media also said at least 35 people arrested at the Nasr city protest for having weapons and gas cylinders.
The action follows weeks of warnings from the interim leadership that force would possibly used to clear the protesters.
At least one person was killed on Tuesday, and many others injured in clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's ousted president