Death toll mounts in Egypt as protesters defy army

UN Security Council in New York to hold emergency session on crisis

An Egyptian woman identifies the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian security forces.  In retaliation, Muslim Brotherhood supporters yesterday torched government buildings and clashed with security forces across the country. Photograph:  Ed Giles/Getty Images

An Egyptian woman identifies the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian security forces. In retaliation, Muslim Brotherhood supporters yesterday torched government buildings and clashed with security forces across the country. Photograph: Ed Giles/Getty Images

 


Supporters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have torched government buildings and clashed with security forces across the country in a second day of defiance against a crackdown that officials say has killed at least 578 people and wounded many thousands.

The death toll from the withering violence is likely to be far higher, with many bodies remaining unaccounted for in mosques near the scene of the two major assaults on Brotherhood sit-ins on Wednesday. The violence achieved its aim of clearing both protest sites but led to widespread rage and uncertainty.

The UN Security Council in New York will today hold a closed emergency meeting on the situation in Egypt.

Clashes took place for a second day in the capital Cairo, where an angry crowd stormed a security building in Giza and sporadic fighting was reported in at least four other parts of the country, including central Egypt where at least one police station and several churches were torched.

In Beni Suef, a southern city, locals said demonstrators attacked the security headquarters and a Coptic school. In Ismailia, a city near the Suez Canal, protesters backing ousted president Mohamed Morsi attempted to attack a police station with a car, while Brotherhood members held a protest after the start of the evening curfew.

Bodies were still being counted in three mosques, three hospitals and two morgues, said Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad yesterday, hours after a major assault led by interior ministry forces left behind scenes of shocking carnage at two sites used by supporters for the past six weeks.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s military-backed interim government remained defiant, pledging to confront “terrorist actions and sabotage”, laying the blame for the violence at the feet of the Brotherhood.

State television quoted the interior ministry as saying the security forces would again use live ammunition to counter any attacks against themselves or public buildings. The curfew will now be imposed from 9pm to 6am.

Brotherhood leaders warned they could not restrain the anger of supporters across the country and said they feared the outbreak of more widespread violence in coming weeks.

In a statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he condemned “the heavy use of force to clear protests in Cairo, and all violence which occurred yesterday, which has led to serious loss of life and heavy casualties. It is deeply regrettable that the restraint shown until now by the authorities was abandoned yesterday.”

He advised Irish citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Egypt, with the exception of the Red Sea resorts. – (Guardian service)