Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood issued a call Monday for a revolt against the military after a bloody crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, fueling fears of a civil war.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, called on “the great Egyptian people to a peaceful uprising against those who want to steal their revolution with tanks and armored vehicles.”
Meanwhile, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour issued a constitutional declaration Monday night that set a six-month transitional period. During this time, amendments to the suspended constitution will be voted on in a referendum to be followed by parliamentary elections. Presidential elections are expected early next year.
Monday’s violence, which Egypt’s Health Ministry said had left 51 people dead and more than 400 injured, created a rift in the opposition that last week had amassed against the Islamist Mr. Morsi — the nation’s first democratically elected president.
“We are worried about what happened this morning, the clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military,” said Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, which played a prominent role in the Arab Spring protests that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year rule in February 2011, as well as recent demonstrations against Mr. Morsi.
“We want the Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military to reach a solution,” Mr. Maher said from Cairo.
But the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party said it is withdrawing from talks to pick an interim prime minister to protest what it described as a “massacre.”
At least 73 people, including five children, were killed in the violence, according to the Freedom and Justice Party. It said more than 1,000 people had been injured, most of them critically. “Bloodbath!” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad wrote on Twitter.
An army spokesman denied that any children had been killed.
Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of the fabled Al-Azhar Mosque and Egypt’s top cleric, said he would go into seclusion until “everyone shoulders his responsibility to stop the bloodshed, instead of dragging the country into civil war.”
Mr. Mansour, chief justice of the Constitutional Court who was sworn Thursday in as interim president, ordered an investigation into the violence.
Pro-reform Constitution Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who had been picked as the anti-Morsi opposition’s leader, earlier had called for an independent investigation into the clashes.
“Violence begets violence and should be strongly condemned,” Mr. ElBaradei said on Twitter. “Independent investigation a must. Peaceful transition is only way.”
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is “deeply concerned by the increasing violence across Egypt and by Egypt’s dangerous level of political polarization.”
However, he declined to describe Mr. Morsi’s ouster as a military coup and said that cutting $1.3 billion in U.S. aid to the Egyptian military would not be in U.S. interests.
Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary George Little said Monday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel talked to Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi four times over the weekend in “lengthy and very candid” conversations.
“It’s our belief that it’s important to maintain open lines of communication with the Egyptian military during this period, again to signal the administration’s support for steps that reduce provocations, reduce violence and move Egypt toward a transition that emphasizes democracy and civilian authority,” Mr. Little said.
Three days of massive anti-Morsi protests ended Wednesday with the military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi, who took office in June 2012. Millions of protesters had packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square accusing him of consolidating his power, undermining state institutions, and ignoring the economy and security.
The military also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution as it called for early elections.
Mr. Maher said the April 6 Youth Movement was meeting with “friends in the Muslim Brotherhood” and the Nour Party to try to “reach a solution on how to speed up the political process.”
• Kristina Wong contributed to this report.