New York Times: Death Toll in Egypt climbs to 525
David D. Kirkpatrick and Alan Cowell
15 August 2013
The death toll from Egypt’s bloody crackdown on supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, soared beyond 500 on Thursday with more than 3,700 people injured, the Health Ministry said, in a further sign of the extent and the ferocity of Wednesday’s scorched-earth assault by security forces to raze two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.
Despite the growing tally of dead, however, Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Mr. Morsi urged followers to take to the streets on Thursday, a day after the assault on the camps set off a violent backlash across Egypt and underscored the new government’s determination to crush the Islamists who dominated the free elections over the past two years.(…)
Mohamad Fathallah, the Health Ministry spokesman, told the official Al Ahram Web site that the toll so far stood at 525 with 3,717 injured. He said the biggest concentration of killings, numbering 202, had been in the larger of the two protest camps in Nasr City suburb, with 87 recorded in the smaller Nahda Square camp near Cairo University. A further 29 deaths were reported from the Helwan area on the outskirts of Cairo with 207 from other areas around the country.
The call for renewed demonstrations — threatening further violent confrontation on the streets — came as an overnight curfew, ignored by some pro-Morsi figures who gathered at a mosque and other places, drew to a close and gave way to a brittle, muted calm in the city.(…)
The attack on Wednesday, the third mass killing of Islamist demonstrators since the overthrow, followed a series of government threats. But the scale — lasting more than 12 hours, with armored vehicles, bulldozers, tear gas, birdshot, live ammunition and snipers — and the ferocity far exceeded the Interior Ministry’s promises of a gradual and measured dispersal.
The violence spread to other cities, and Adli Mansour, the figurehead president appointed by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, declared a state of emergency, removing any limits on police action and returning Egypt to the state of virtual martial law that prevailed for three decades under President Hosni Mubarak. The government imposed a 7 p.m. curfew in most of the country, closed the banks and shut down all north-south train service.
On the streets Thursday morning, the authorities continued to tamp down fires and clean up the debris of the razed protest camps. The city was quieter than usual, witnesses said, as some residents had their first glimpse of the damage.
The Interior Ministry said that 43 security personnel died, news reports said, and there were indications that the tally was still mounting.(…)
The Muslim Brotherhood, the main Islamist group behind Mr. Morsi, reiterated its rejection of violence on Wednesday but called on Egyptians across the country to rise up in protest, and its supporters marched toward the camps to battle the police with rocks and firebombs.
Clashes and gunfire broke out even in well-heeled precincts of the capital far from the protest camps, leaving anxious residents huddled in their homes and the streets all but emptied of life. Angry Islamists attacked at least a dozen police stations around the country, according to the state news media, killing more than 40 police officers.
They also lashed out at Christians, attacking or burning seven churches, according to the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim. Coptic Christian and human rights groups said the number was far higher.
The crackdown followed six weeks of efforts by Western diplomats to broker a political resolution that might persuade the Islamists to abandon their protests and rejoin a renewed democratic process despite the military’s removal of Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. But the brutality of the attack seemed to extinguish any such hopes.
The assault prompted the resignation of the interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize laureate and former diplomat who had lent his reputation to selling the West on the democratic goals of the military takeover.
“We have reached a state of harder polarization and more dangerous division, with the social fabric in danger of tearing, because violence only begets violence,” Mr. ElBaradei wrote in a public letter to the president. “The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups,” he said, “and you will remember what I am telling you.” (…)
International condemnation of the military-based operation continued unabated. In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, an ally of Mr. Morsi, called for an early meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss what he labeled a “massacre.”
(…) In a televised statement, Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister and a Western-trained economist who had been considered a liberal, cited the Islamists’ supposed stockpiling of weapons and ammunition to argue that the use of force was justified to protect the rights of other citizens.
Michael Wahid Hanna, a researcher on Egypt with the New York-based Century Foundation who was visiting Cairo, asked, “Is this closer to being resolved tonight than last night?”
“Obviously not. I don’t think anybody has thought this through fully.”
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