Islamists call protest march as Egypt death toll mounts
Updated: 2013-08-15 21:45
Violence rippled out from Cairo, with Morsi supporters and security forces clashing in the cities of Alexandria, Minya, Assiut, Fayoum and Suez and in Buhayra and Beni Suef provinces.
Islamists staged revenge attacks on Christian targets in several areas, setting fire to churches, homes and businesses after Coptic Pope Tawadros gave his blessing to the takeover that ousted Morsi, security sources and state media said.
Churches were attacked in the Nile Valley towns of Minya, Sohag and Assiut, where Christians escaped across the roof into a neighbouring building after a mob surrounded and hurled bricks at their place of worship, state news agency MENA said.
Authorities on Thursday referred 84 people from the city of Suez, including Muslim Brotherhood members, to military prosecutors on charges of murder and burning churches, the state news agency reported.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a news conference 43 members of the police force were killed in the clashes.
He vowed to restore Mubarak-era security after announcing, in a statement last month that chilled human rights campaigners, the return of notorious political police departments that had been scrapped after the 2011 revolution.
Wednesday's official death toll took the number of people killed in political violence since Morsi's fall to well over 800, mostly Islamist supporters of the deposed president.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called the bloodshed in Egypt "deplorable" - a word US diplomats rarely use - and urged all sides to seek a political solution.
A US official told Reuters that Washington was considering cancelling a major joint military exercise with Egypt, due this year, after the latest violence, in what would be a direct snub to the Egyptian armed forces.
After Morsi's ouster, Gulf Arab states pledged $12 billion in aid to Egypt, bolstering its coffers after reserves of foreign currency and food stocks had run dangerous.