Mohammed Mursi

Anger is 'beyond control' as Cairo faces a backlash

World condemns crackdown on protest that left at least 525 dead as Brotherhood calls for action

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 8:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 3:00am

Egyptian authorities yesterday authorised police to use deadly force to protect themselves and key state institutions.

The order was issued after supporters of the deposed Islamist president torched two local government buildings a day after a crackdown killed at least 525 people.

As the Hong Kong government raised the travel alert for the country to black, US President Barack Obama cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt, but stopped short of suspending US$1.3 billion in annual aid. Obama said he "strongly" condemned the crackdown on demonstrators and that the military-backed government had taken a "dangerous path".

France warned of the threat of "civil war", and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan - a Mursi ally - called for an early meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss what he labelled a massacre.

Deposed leader Mohammed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood issued a defiant call to followers to march in Cairo late yesterday. On Wednesday the government declared a month-long state of emergency, including dusk-to-dawn curfews in the capital and ten provinces.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said anger within the movement was "beyond control". He said: "After the blows and arrests and killings that we are facing, emotions are too high to be guided by anyone."

On Wednesday, protesters clashed with police and troops who used bulldozers, tear gas and live ammunition to clear two Cairo sit-ins that had become a hub of resistance to the army, which deposed Mursi six weeks ago. The clashes spread quickly to cities including Alexandria.

The Brotherhood claimed 2,200 had been killed and 10,000 injured. One witness counted 228 bodies, most wrapped in white shrouds, on the floor of the al-Iman mosque in northeast Cairo.

The Interior Ministry authorised the use of deadly force on protesters after an angry crowd stormed two government buildings in Giza, on the outskirts of the capital.

The government said it would fight "terrorist acts" by "elements of the Brotherhood organisation", invoking language used to describe militant groups such as al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, security and medical sources said seven Egyptian soldiers had been shot dead by unknown gunmen near the city of El Arish in the lawless North Sinai region.

Reuters, Associated Press