'We'll bring down Egypt's military coup'
15 August 2013, 14:59
Cairo - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday it would
bring down the "military coup" but stressed it remained committed to
a peaceful struggle, despite the heavy loss of life when government forces
broke up its protest camps.
The crackdown on Wednesday defied Western appeals for
restraint and a peacefully negotiated settlement to Egypt's political crisis
following the military's removal of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last
month, prompting international statements of dismay and condemnation.
"We will always be non-violent and peaceful. We remain
strong, defiant and resolved," Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad El-Haddad
wrote on his Twitter feed. "We will push [forward] until we bring down
this military coup," he added.
Security forces struggled to clamp a lid on Egypt after the
worst nationwide bloodshed in decades, although a curfew largely held in Cairo
Islamists clashed with police and troops who used
bulldozers, teargas and live fire on Wednesday to clear out two Cairo sit-ins
that had become a hub of Muslim Brotherhood resistance to the military after it
deposed Mursi on 3 July.
The clashes spread quickly, and a health ministry official
said about 300 people were killed and more than 2 000 injured in fighting in Cairo,
Alexandria and numerous towns and cities around the mostly Muslim nation of 84
In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on
Thursday for the UN Security Council to convene quickly and act after what he
described as a massacre in Egypt.
"Those who remain silent in the face of this massacre
are as guilty as those who carried it out. The UN Security Council must convene
quickly," he told a news conference.
At the site of one Cairo sit-in, garbage collectors cleared
still-smouldering piles of burnt tents on Thursday. Soldiers dismantled the
stage at the heart of the protest camp. A burnt out armoured vehicle stood
abandoned in the street.
The Muslim Brotherhood said the true death toll was far
higher, with a spokesperson saying 2 000 people had been killed in a
"massacre". It was impossible to verify the figures independently
given the extent of the violence.
The military-installed government declared a month-long
state of emergency and imposed the dusk-to-dawn curfew on Cairo and 10 other
provinces, restoring to the army powers of arrest and indefinite detention it
held for decades until the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a 2011 popular
The army insists it does not seek power and acted Last month
in response to mass demonstrations calling for Mursi's removal.
Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner
who lent liberal political support to the ousting of Egypt's first freely
elected president, resigned in dismay at the use force instead of a negotiated
end to the six-week stand-off.
Other liberals and technocrats in the interim government did
not follow suit. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi spoke in a televised
address of a "difficult day for Egypt" but said the government had no
choice but to order the crackdown to prevent anarchy spreading.
"We found that matters had reached a point that no
self-respecting state could accept," he said.
Islamists staged revenge attacks on Christian targets in
several areas, torching churches, homes and business after Coptic Pope Tawadros
gave his blessing to the military takeover that ousted Morsi, security sources
and state media said.
Churches were attacked in the Nile Valley towns of Minya,
Sohag and Assiut, where Christians escaped across the roof into a neighbouring
building after a mob surrounded and hurled bricks at their place of worship,
state news agency MENA said.
The United States, the European Union, the United Nations
and fellow Muslim power Turkey condemned the violence and called for the
lifting of the state of emergency and an inclusive political solution to
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a news conference 43
members of the police force were killed in the clashes.
He vowed to restore Mubarak-era security after announcing,
in a statement last month that chilled human rights campaigners, the return of
notorious political police departments that had been scrapped after the 2011
Wednesday's official death toll took the number of people
killed in political violence since Morsi’s fall to about 600, mostly Islamist
supporters of the ousted president.
Violence rippled out from Cairo, with Morsi supporters and
security forces clashing in the cities of Alexandria, Minya, Assiut, Fayoum and
Suez and in Buhayra and Beni Suef provinces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called the bloodshed in
Egypt "deplorable" - a word US diplomats rarely use - and urged all sides
to seek a political solution.
A US official told Reuters that Washington was considering
cancelling a major joint military exercise with Egypt, due this year, after the
latest violence, in what would be a direct snub to the Egyptian armed forces.
The "Bright Star" exercise has been a cornerstone
of US-Egyptian military relations and began in 1981 after the Camp David peace
accords between Egypt and Israel. The United States has already halted delivery
of four F-16 fighter jets in a signal of its displeasure.
Islamist militants with no direct link to the Brotherhood
have staged almost daily attacks on security forces in the lawless Sinai
Peninsula bordering Israel since Morsi’s fall.
In the latest violence, gunmen shot dead two policemen
outside their station in El Arish in northern Sinai on Wednesday evening, MENA