Two possible scenarios, but before I mention them, let’s make two facts very clear.
Fact One: Army is murderous & trigger happy
This is not the first time the army and police killed scores of people. They did so when SCAF was in power and during Brotherhood rule as well. Army troops in particular are not trained to deal with civilians, not mentioning armed civilians. They are similar to the teens from Alabama the US government sent to man checkpoints in Iraq. Couple their lack of training with their disregard to any human rights; you end up having creatures that turn into mass murderers in any given melee.
Fact Two: The Brotherhood are armed
I heard a bullet myself in Maspero. Last weekend, the Brotherhood decided to go protest at Maspero, the state owned media complex not far from Tahrir. Upon my arrival there I saw MB trying to reach Tahrir via the October 6th exit. Tahrir protesters were trying to stop them by throwing rocks and firing fireworks. They pushed the MB back and took control of the bridge. I was basically seeing and hearing the things I witnesses before in clashes during the past two and a half years: rocks, fireworks and occasionally birdshots. Suddenly it came invading my ears; the sound you hear in old cowboy and Indians movies, the whistle sound a bullet makes when it hits a wall. The Maspero clashes ended when armed locals from the area came and drove the MB away.
Another proof the MB had weapons is much more obvious than the whistle sound I heard at Maspero. Last week the MB were involved in clashes with protesters and locals in Bayn El Sarayat, Manial, Maspero, Sidi Gaber and Assiut – not mentioning the other battles that occurred in the provinces but were not thoroughly covered by the local media. Bayn El sarayat is very near the other MB sit-in in front of Cairo University. Since the MB had weapons there, we can presume they also had weapons at the Rabaa and Republic Guards Club (RGC) sit-ins. These were the major deadly clashes that witnessed the death of tens including MB who aggravated locals with their violence and assault on their neighborhoods.
Lastly, an army officer, a policeman and a soldier were shot dead during the RGC shootings. An army officer was shot from a high position (possibly a roof) and is now in a serious condition. A witness whom The New Yorker interviewed confirmed that he saw and heard shooting coming from the protesters side.
Scenario 1: Army wanted to break the sit-in
The army wanted to end the RGC sit-in and thus it was the generals who instigated the violence. The RGC sit-in is right on one of Cairo’s main avenues and is in the middle of high profile military institutions. It’s also possible that the army might have had intelligence on the presence of weapons inside the sit-in and decided to storm it.
According to witnesses, tear gas was used at the initial phase of the shooting. The usage of heavy tear gas usually precedes the storming of a particular sit-in.
Scenario 2: PR stunt by the MB
The Brotherhood is cornered. It lost the power seat it wanted for the past eighty years in just one year. The popularity of the MB went on a downward spiral and only an incident like that could win them some support especially outside Egypt. The intrernational community was the last card the MB was playing when the anti-Morsi protests grew to the millions. So the MB did in fact attack the RGC to provoke the RGC soldiers to commit the massacre to allow the MB a golden opportunity to plead their case in front of an already sympathetic international media.
Can the MB actually do this to itself? Yes. Even though the MB had renounced violence, it is still not distant enough from the dogma of suicide bombings and martyrdom. Almost every known terrorist had an encounter with the MB at one point in his life. Killing the poor souls you brainwash for political gains is not a far thing from the MB mind.
When the army moved in to storm the sit-in, the MB fired and that was enough to cause the knee jerk reaction from our trigger happy soldiers.