The Egyptian military has been using a banned chemical agent to deal with hundreds of thousands of protesters, according to several news sources.
At least 23 Egyptians have died and more than 1,700 have succumbed to a lethal gas military forces have been using during the past three days in clashes in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The International Business Times reports that demonstrators have been struck with “dangerous levels of CR gas over the past two days of protests” and Australia’s The Age said Wednesday that the canisters are marked “Made in the USA.”
CR gas is an intense and lethal version of CS gas, called “tear gas,” widely used by police for crowd control.
Wikipedia notes that CR gas has effects that are “are approximately 6 to 10 times more powerful than those of CS gas.” CR causes intense skin pain and irritation, and can lead to blindness and death by asphyxiation.
CR gas was widely used by South African police during the height of Apartheid in the 1980s and its use was widely condemned by international bodies.
Former IAEA official Mohammed ElBaradei has confirmed in Twitter that Egyptian forces have used “tear gas with [a] nerve agent.”
The Arabist, an Egyptian blog covering the protests Tuesday, quoted an Egyptian neurology expert as saying this “is not the regular tear gas used in January [during protests]” and was causing “extra-pyramidal symptoms — involuntary jerks in extremities and trunk mimicking a convulsive seizure.”
”It is some kind of neuro-toxic nerve gas,” doctor Mohamed Aden, who usually works at the Cairo University hospitals, told Australia’s The Age. ”We are seeing people whose upper respiratory tract is in convulsion – we have to give them diazepam to relax the muscles to allow them to begin to breathe again.”
The Australian paper continued: “A young man was rushed into the clinic, unconscious and fitting, as the doctor spoke. For at least five minutes it was touch and go as medics administered treatment. Finally he drew breath and the team moved to one of the four patients who had just been carried in, a man with gunshot wound to a leg.”
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