Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
"I saw a man crossing the road. Then — bang — he was shot. I didn’t yet know if he was alive or dead, but it felt so natural to run towards him. He was surrounded by people trying to help. And then I saw this hand," TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev says. He had arrived in Tahrir Square on July 3 — just as the military announced that Islamist President Mohamed Morsi had been deposed — and spent the week photographing violent clashes in the streets of Cairo.
The man, who is not pictured, but whose blood is seen in the image above, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and had been shot as he was on his way to put a poster of Morsi on the barbed wire outside the barracks of the Republican Guard, the last known location of the deposed president. The photograph is featured in this week’s issue of TIME and in the LightBox Pictures of the Week gallery.
Kozyrev had been documenting the turmoil in Egypt since the early days of the Arab Spring in January 2011. (Much of the work has also been featured on LightBox.) The events of the last week, however, were entirely unexpected to him and reflected a different environment than what he had witnessed before. Much of the idealism and inspiration of the initial uprising has been tainted by escalating levels of violence from all sides.
"It’s not just revolutionaries throwing stones. They’re using everything. They have guns on both sides and they can be very aggressive with foreigners," Kozyrev says of the conflicts. Many photographers now come prepared with gas masks and helmets; some even bring body armor. "It’s a rough environment, it’s more challenging for us caught in the middle. But every time I am back I feel like I’m witnessing something important."
Such a violent, complicated situation can be difficult to document visually. Sometimes it calls not for the most graphic or gruesome image, but the most suggestive one.
"I believe the picture of the bloody hand tells more about how fragile and how dangerous this situation is in Cairo right now."
See more of this week’s best photos on LightBox.