Armed to the teeth, hundreds of Islamists left a trail of destruction when they tried to pass through a normally quiet Cairo neighbourhood, only to be confronted by residents who tried to stop them reaching Tahrir Square.
The clashes broke out on Friday night in Manial, as they also did in many other parts of Egypt, during Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations to demand the army restore Islamist president Mohamed Morsi two days after he was toppled in a popularly backed coup.
“The Brotherhood attacked the area with all kinds of weapons,” said Mohammed Yehya, a resident who lost three of his friends in the mayhem.
His claim could not be verified, but many other residents gave similar accounts.
The inhabitants of the Nile island neighbourhood reported seeing bearded Islamists armed with machineguns, machetes and sticks late on Friday before the deadly clashes broke out.
Snipers were spotted on rooftops, and medics told AFP they treated some residents of the normally quiet middle-class neighbourhood for bullet wounds with a downward trajectory.
Buildings were pockmarked with bullet holes. Rocks carpeted the ground and charred tyres bore witness to the ferocity of the violence.
Residents say the attack began shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, gave a fiery speech to Morsi supporters in Cairo’s Nasr City, which was broadcast live on television.
The overall toll for Friday’s violence across Egypt was 37, but the number of casualties is likely to rise.