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Kerry: Violence in Egypt a ‘serious blow to reconciliation’
More than 200 killed in ‘massacre’
Egyptian security forces deployed snipers, tear gas and bulldozers Wednesday to break up two sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, in an assault that claimed more than 200 lives, drew swift international condemnation and led to the resignation of the vice president in the military-backed interim government.
Interim President Adly Mansour imposed a monthlong state of emergency and nighttime curfew in Cairo and 10 provinces, giving security forces the power to detain civilians without charge.
Reports about the number of people killed in the police crackdown were conflicting.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry denounced the violence as “deplorable.” He called the police crackdown “a serious blow to reconciliation” between Mr. Morsi’s supporters who want him reinstated and millions of Egyptians whose protests of Mr. Morsi’s increasingly authoritarian policies led to the military’s July 3 overthrow of the democratically elected president.
“Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back,” Mr. Kerry said. “They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life.”
Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a televised address that the decision to end the 6-week-old sit-ins was not easy. Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim blamed the protesters for the violence and said police had orders not to use live ammunition.
However, Mr. Ibrahim’s claims were disputed by Egyptians who said snipers shot Morsi supporters in the head, neck and chest in a clear sign that they intended to kill. They distributed photos of bloodied victims, but the authenticity of those images could not be verified immediately.
Amnesty International said Egyptian authorities’ promises to “use lethal methods only as a last resort to disperse protesters appear to have been broken.”
Security forces moved in on the protest sites early Wednesday, apparently catching the protesters off guard. The smaller protest at al-Nahda Square was the first to be cleared.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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