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Violence rages on in deeply divided Egypt

© AFP

Video by Josh Vardey

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-16

Supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood stormed and torched government buildings near Cairo on Thursday as world leaders met at the United Nations to discuss the country’s deepening crisis.

Violent showdowns continued to rage across Egypt on Thursday as the United States strongly condemned a bloody crackdown that killed close to 300 people at a sit-in of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo the previous day.

Angry protesters stormed and set fire to two government buildings in Giza, the Egyptian capital’s twin city, with firemen brought in to evacuate the building’s occupants and fight the blaze.

Meanwhile, seven Egyptian soldiers were shot dead near the city of El-Arish in the North Sinai region.

At least three other people were killed and dozens more wounded in clashes between supporters of the army-led interim government and people loyal to ousted president Mohammed Morsi in the city of Alexandria.

The government warned in a statement that police were authorised to use live ammunition to defend state institutions against protesters, and upheld a night-time curfew that started on Wednesday.

Egypt’s health ministry raised the death toll from Wednesday – one of Egypt’s bloodiest days in recent years – from around 300 to 638.

The wave of violence was triggered by the assault on two Muslim Brotherhood-led encampments in Cairo on Wednesday by Egyptian security forces. Of the more than 600 victims, 288 were killed in Raaba, the larger of the two camps in eastern Cairo, the Health Ministry said.

Heartbroken families tried to identify hundreds of mutilated and charred bodies piled in a Cairo mosque.

Over 2,000 people were also injured in widespread clashes and acts of violence, which included the burning of at least seven Coptic churches across the country.

Emergency meeting at the UN

US President Barack Obama on Thursday cancelled joint exercises with Egypt's military to protest the raid on the encampments, but stopped short of suspending $1.3 billion in annual aid.

“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” Obama said in a speech while on vacation in Massachusetts.

Later in the day the US Department of State said it wanted an army-imposed state of emergency, which is supposed to last one month, to be lifted immediately.

Diplomats at the United Nations said that the UN Security Council would hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the deepening crisis in Egypt.

There were widespread fears of further violence and a growing rift in Egyptian society, with the secular, grassroots Tamarod movement reportedly calling for people to protest in Tahrir Square after prayers on Friday.

Date created : 2013-08-15

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