The death toll rose to at least 525 in clashes between Egypt's security forces
and backers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, officials said Thursday.
Mohamad Fath Allah, the Health Ministry spokesman, said 202 people died near Eman mosque as security forces cleared sit-ins at the main protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square Wednesday. Eighty-seven others died in Nahda Square and 29 in Helwan, in southern Cairo. Some 207 deaths occurred in the provinces, The New York Times reported.
Wednesday marked Egypt's single bloodiest day since the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. At least 3,700 people were injured in the clashes.
Egypt's security forces acted with "self-restraint" in clearing sit-ins by Morsi backers, the military-led interim government said.
At the same time, Islamist protesters removed from the two sit-ins Wednesday established new sit-in sites overnight -- one outside a landmark Cairo mosque and others in cities around the country, The New York Times reported
Their sit-ins defied a new 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and the interior minister's vows to break up any such assemblies.
"Our forces have exercised self-restraint and professionalism in their actions," the government said in a statement read on state television late Wednesday. "This is reflected in the low number of injuries."
The Muslim Brotherhood urged a new round of protests Thursday.
"We will always be non-violent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved," Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, posted on Twitter. "We will push forward until we bring down this military coup," referring to the ouster of Morsi.
Among the dead were at least two journalists, including a British cameraman for Britain's Sky News network, and the daughter of Muslim Brotherhood leader, Asmaa el-Beltago, al-Masry al-Youm reported.
A spokesman for the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood called the dawn crackdown a "massacre."
Hundreds of Morsi-allied Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested nationwide Wednesday, the government said.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and vice president, resigned Wednesday in protest.
The Obama administration strongly condemned the violence and said it would hold the interim government accountable for its promises of a speedy transition to a democratically elected civilian administration.
Ibrahim, one of the few ministers who kept his Cabinet post after Morsi was ousted July 3, said in a televised address his security forces "insisted on maintaining the highest degrees of self-restraint."
Interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, a Western-trained economist who had been considered a liberal, echoed Ibrahim's remarks, saying in a televised statement security forces acted with the utmost "self-restraint" after six weeks of the unauthorized sit-ins.
He cited the Islamist protesters' alleged stockpiling of weapons and ammunition in justifying the use of force, which he said was intended to protect the rights of other citizens.
"Things were spiraling out of control, and we decided to take a firm stance," he said.
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