News Column

Egypt: 'Day of Rage' Marches, More Violence

August 16, 2013
Egyptian flag

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi stormed across the May 15 Bridge Friday as gunfire erupted across Cairo.

Demonstrators, defying a government order, staged marches, demanding the interim government installed by the military be replaced by Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president who was ousted July 3.

More than 600 people have died since Wednesday's crackdown on demonstrators -- a move supported by working class Egyptians, The New York Times reported.

The death toll was expected to increase Friday with the authorization to use lethal force, if necessary, given to security forces.

Demonstrators were reported storming across the May 15 Bridge as fighting was reported in Rameses Square, with demonstrators throwing stones and fireworks and security forces lobbing tear gas canisters, the British newspaper The Guardian reported in its live blog. Protesters were said to be writing their names on their arms in case they got shot.

NBC reported machine-gun fire as security forced blocked off the Oct. 6 Bridge. RT reported the railroad north of Cairo that connects Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh had been damaged by a bomb.

Friday's rallies following early afternoon congregational prayer will vent Islamists' uncontrollable anger over the regime's bloody crackdown Wednesday, the Muslim Brotherhood said.

They will also challenge the government's monthlong nationwide state of emergency and a dusk-to-dawn curfew, said the Islamist religious, political and social movement.

Egypt's civilian Cabinet said the state of emergency imposed Wednesday, which gives security services sweeping powers, was only a "temporary procedure forced by circumstances." It promised some restrictions would be eased soon.

The state of emergency imposed by autocratic President Hosni Mubarak in 1981 lasted until after his Feb. 11, 2011, overthrow.

The Health Ministry said Thursday 638 civilians were killed nationwide in Wednesday's clashes, including nearly 300 at one of the two Cairo sit-ins by Morsi backers.

More than 4,200 people were injured, the ministry said.

A ministry official told The Washington Post the death toll could actually be as high as 700.

The Muslim Brotherhood put the death toll at 2,600 and the number of injured at 10,000.

Even with the lower death count, Wednesday's casualties marked the bloodiest single day since Egyptians rose up against Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule 31 months ago.

As the Brotherhood called for protests, Egypt's Interior Ministry said, as part of emergency rule, it gave its troops in Cairo and elsewhere an order to use lethal force when necessary.

"The ministry has given instructions to all forces to use live ammunition in the face of any attacks on establishments or forces within the framework of the regulations of using the legitimate right of self-defense," the ministry said in a statement, defying calls for restraint from Washington and European capitals.

The military-led regime of interim President Adly Mansour also said U.S. President Barack Obama -- who interrupted a weeklong vacation to condemn the bloodshed -- failed to grasp the nature of the "terrorist acts" it said Egypt faced.

Obama's remarks will "strengthen the violent armed groups and encourage them in their methods inimical to stability and the democratic transition," a statement from Mansour's office said.

Obama in his remarks did not suspend the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt but canceled joint military exercises scheduled to take place next month and ordered his national security team to consider "further steps that we may take as necessary."

Shortly after Obama's remarks, the State Department warned U.S. citizens living in Egypt to leave "because of the continuing political and social unrest."

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Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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