CAIRO (CNN) -- In a matter of hours, two peaceful protest camps in Cairo turned into unrecognizable war zones. And the violence is still under way.
It began with Egyptian security forces storming the two massive makeshift camps filled with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy, bulldozing tents and escorting away hundreds of protesters.
Chaos ensued. Many protesters refused to leave, even in the face of bulldozers and surrounded by the injured and dead. "They said they're prepared to die," CNN's Reza Sayah reported from Cairo.
"I have personally never seen this much bloodshed in what, according to what we've seen over the past six weeks, had been a peaceful demonstration," Sayah said. Visiting makeshift hospitals, a CNN crew was "literally walking on the blood of the victims."
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One man who appeared bloodied told CNN his friends were killed.
Along with smoke, bursts of rapid gunfire continued to fill the air. It was unclear who had the weapons, and who was shooting at whom. People could be heard wailing.
Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire who helped found the anti-Morsy Free Egyptian Party, said his party had video of Muslim Brotherhood members "shooting machine guns on civilians, on police. So anyone who wants to call this a peaceful demonstration would be wrong."
He also insisted, "This is no war zone."
But Ahmed Mustafa, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, told CNN from London that Sawiris was trying to misrepresent video of masked people with weapons.
The Muslim Brotherhood also said police were throwing Molotov cocktails at makeshift clinics.
The Interior Ministry said security forces did not use gunfire and instead were attacked by "terrorist elements" inside the camps.
"Egyptian security forces are committed to the utmost self-restraint in dealing with the protesters," the ministry said.
Speaking to CNN, representatives of both sides insisted they oppose violence.
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'Just the beginning'
The Muslim Brotherhood -- Morsy's party -- said 200 Morsy supporters were killed and more than 8,000 injured. But the party has given exaggerated figures in the past, only to revise them later.
The Health Ministry said 15 protesters were killed and 203 wounded. It also said five security officials died and 29 were injured trying to trying to disperse the protesters.
Sky News cameraman Mick Deane was killed, the UK-based news channel reported. Deane had worked for Sky for 15 years. The rest of the team was unhurt.
The violence wasn't limited to Cairo. Morsy supporters besieged various churches in Sohag, setting fire to Saint George's Church, a tour bus and a police car, Egypt's state-run EgyNews reported.
Interior Ministry sources told CNN that Muslim Brotherhood supporters also attacked three police stations around Egypt.
"I think what we're seeing right now is just the beginning of what is promising to be a very, very long and bloody battle as the interim government and the security forces try to regain control of the streets," CNN's Arwa Damon reported from Cairo.
"Today is a tragic day in Egypt," said Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, part of the pro-Morsy Anti-Coup National Alliance, in an interview with CNN.
He blamed "corrupt elements" in the Egyptian army, calling their actions a "crime against humanity," and "state terrorism."
"The whole international community should not only condemn this but should not have any dealing with the coup," he demanded.
But Shehab Wagih, spokesman for the anti-Morsy Free Egyptian Party, spoke out in support of the military.
"There is no other resolution when someone is establishing a state inside your state," he said.
"We believe in human rights," he insisted. "But at the same time, we cannot accept the idea of having a state inside a state."
The raids began around dawn. Within three hours, forces had cleared the smaller of the two camps -- the Nahda camp, near the Cairo University campus. All that remained were shreds of torn-down tents.
But the larger protest, near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo, proved trickier, with forces facing heavy resistance. The military called in special forces. Protester Hassan Al Qabana described it as a "full-on assault."
The government blocked all roads leading to the Rabaa camp and suspended rail service to Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed the suspension was an attempt to prevent more of its members from streaming into the city.
Morsy supporters flooded a bridge leading to Rabaa al-Adawiya square, video from state-run Nile TV showed. Some of the protesters clashed with security forces.
In an effort to fend off security forces, protesters had broken off tree branches and dragged pipes and planks to build makeshift barriers in the streets near the Rabaa camp.
Mothers and fathers whisked away children, gas masks on their faces.
Those who spoke to CNN insisted they had no weapons and were demonstrating peacefully.