Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Aya Batrawy / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
People mourn sitting next to bodies of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi at the El-Iman mosque in Cairo's Nasr City, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egyptian authorities on Thursday significantly raised the death toll from clashes the previous day between police and supporters of the ousted Islamist president, saying hundreds of people died and laying bare the extent of the violence that swept much of the country and prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency and a nighttime curfew. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
Supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi capture an Egyptian security forces vehicle at the Ministry of Finance in Cairo on Wednesday.
Elsewhere on Thursday, a mass funeral was held in Cairo for some of the 43 security troops authorities said were killed in Wednesday's clashes. Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, led the mourners. A police band played solemn music as fire engines bore the coffins draped in white, red and black Egyptian flags in a funeral procession.
Wednesday's deadly crackdown drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West.
President Barack Obama canceled joint U.S.-Egypt military exercises scheduled for next month, although he gave no indication that the U.S. planned to cut off its $1.3 billion in annual military aid to the country. The U.S. administration has avoided declaring Morsi's ouster a coup, which would force it to suspend the military 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, speaking from his weeklong vacation in Massachusetts.
Egypt's interim government issued a late night statement saying the country is facing "terrorist actions targeting government and vital institutions" by "violent militant groups." The statement expressed "sadness" for the killings of Egyptians and pledged to work on restoring law and order.
The statement also warned that Obama's position "while it's not based on facts can empower the violent militant groups and encourage them in its anti-stability discourse."
The biennial Bright Star maneuvers, long a centerpiece of the deep ties between the U.S. and Egyptian militaries, have not been held since 2009, as Egypt grappled with the fallout from the revolution that ousted Mubarak. Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, was elected president in 2012 during Egypt's first democratic elections.
Attackers also set fire to churches and police stations across the country for a second day Thursday.
In the country's second-largest city of Alexandria, Islamist protesters exchanged gunfire with an anti-Morsi rally, leaving scores injured, witnesses and security officials said. Attempts to storm police stations in the southern city of Assiut and northern Sinai city of el-Arish left at least six policemen dead and others injured.
Ishaq Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said his group had documented at least 39 cases of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country on Wednesday.
Fearful of more violence Friday, some main streets were closed and people in many neighborhoods set up cement blocks and metal barricades. Residents checked IDs in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 revolution when vigilante-style groups set up neighborhood watches to prevent looting and other attacks.
The turmoil is the latest chapter in a bitter standoff between Morsi's supporters and the interim leadership that took over the Arab world's most populous country following a July 3 coup. The military ouster came after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand Morsi step down, accusing him of giving the Brotherhood undue influence and failing to implement vital reforms or bolster the ailing economy.
Morsi has been held at an undisclosed location ever since. Other Brotherhood leaders, including several arrested Wednesday, have been charged with inciting violence or conspiring in the killing of protesters.
The Brotherhood has spent most of its 85 years as an outlawed group or enduring crackdowns by successive governments. The latest developments could prompt the authorities to once again declare it an illegal group and force it to go underground.