The Washington Times - August 15, 2013, 07:31AM

Sen. Bob Menendez said late Wednesday the violence that has erupted in Egypt is undermining its path to democracy and “only harms” the military.

Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was responding to reports of vicious clashes between the ruling military and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who was democratically elected with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood but quickly inflamed popular opposition by passing reforms that many viewed as a power grab.

SEE RELATED: Egypt’s streets of blood: Full-scale crackdown on Morsi supporters kills more than 500

“I call on all parties immediately and unequivocally to demonstrate restraint and renounce violence,” said Mr. Menendez, who is traveling in Asia. “The Egyptian military has a duty to implement democratic reforms by pursuing democratic elections, and allowing for freedoms of speech and assembly.”

Egyptian security forces broke up two sit-ins by Morsi supporters on Wednesday, an assault that claimed more than 500 lives, drew swift international condemnation and led to the resignation of the vice president in the military-backed interim government.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry denounced the violence as “deplorable.”

“A day of violent attacks like we witnessed yesterday are tragedies that must never happen again,” Mr. Menendez said.