Who are the "snipers" in Port Said?

There have been some disturbing reports of what is described as sniper fire (although it may simply be gunfire, not actual snipers) in Port Said in the last two days. The videos below, some of which whose provenance cannot be verified, paint a rather scary picture

The one below, for instance, shows men dressed in black paramilitary garb - perhaps special forces - using a rooftop position to fire on people on the streets (or perhaps merely survey the streets). There is no way to confirm the place and date of the video, although it is an Egyptian flag that is seen and it is plausibly Port Said. The video is titled to suggest the armed men are Muslim Brothers, but there is nothing to confirm that.

Egypt Muslim Brotherhood Snipers Shoot People... by GWHH19

Another video, shot by Euronews and more credible, shows what appears to be a man in army uniform (light beige) monitoring the street from a window. It's not clear either what exactly is going on, because the street is not empty as you might expect if he was firing on people, but the journalists seem to be believe he is sniping from the windows. Nor, as in the video above, is it clear to me (as a military neophyte - if it's not in Call of Duty I don't know what I'm talking about) whether the weapon he has is anything like a sniper rifle. Help from military geeks appreciated here.

The military has denied using live ammunition in Port Said. But then the question is, who is, since local health authorities say most of those killed were killed by birdshot and live ammunition? Why were the 30 or so people killed during the 26 January attack on Port Said's prison buried without a proper autopsy and forensic report

The precedent of the last two years of investigations into such events does not leave one confident that we'll know anytime soon.


Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.