Mayada Ashraf, 23, a reporter with the daily Al-Dustour, was shot dead while covering clashes between security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Eastern Cairo’s Ain Shams area. The clashes stemmed from nationwide demonstrations by members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who were protesting Army Chief Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement on March 26 that he would resign from the army and run for president.
Forensic report and other eyewitnesses confirmed that Ashraf died from being shot in the head. In a video published by news channel Masr Alarabia, the journalist is shown being carried away by protesters after being shot. An editor at Al-Dustour, AbdelKader Ismael, told Al-Hayat TV that ambulances were initially unable to reach the journalist’s body amid the clashes.
Ashraf’s most recent report from that day’s clashes included a description of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Al-Dustour is well-known for its criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice party. Ashraf had also covered previous protests for the paper, the reports said.
Ahlam Hasanin, Ashraf’s colleague who was with her at the time of the shooting, told the news website of the Freedom and Justice party that Ashraf was shot in the head from the back while they, along with protesters, were running from gunfire. The gunfire was coming from behind them, which was where the police were, she said.
Mina Nader, a freelance journalist who was also present at the time of the attack, said on his social media account that security forces opened fire randomly on the protesters, who were not carrying guns.
Police denied the accusations and said protesters were responsible for shooting Ashraf. A YouTube video was circulated by media supportive of the army that showed three protesters shooting randomly, according to news reports. Demonstrators counter that the video only shows them loading birdshot into their guns, which they say is unlikely to penetrate and exit a human skull from a distance.
Egyptian prosecutors later ordered the arrest of nine individuals who they said were responsible for the shooting, according to news reports. The suspects included the three protesters seen in the video, police said.