CAIRO,Â Aug 18, 2013Â (AFP)
Egyptian Islamists announced freshÂ demonstrations forÂ SundayÂ after police ended a tense stand-off with protestersÂ in a Cairo mosque, as the death toll from four days of violence surpassed 750.
Security forcesÂ on SaturdayÂ dragged Islamist supporters of deposedÂ president Mohamed Morsi from the Al-Fath mosque, passing through angry crowdsÂ who called them “terrorists” and tried to beat them.
The interior ministry said 385 people inside the mosque had been arrested.
The clashes came as the government said the country’s death toll had risenÂ to more than 750 sinceÂ Wednesday, when police cleared two camps of MorsiÂ loyalists in the capital.
A statement by the Anti-Coup Alliance said several marches would take placeÂ in CairoÂ on SundayÂ afternoon, continuing the daily campaign of protests inÂ defiance of an intensifying crackdown.
According to an AFP tally, more than 1,000 people have been killed sinceÂ mass demonstrations at the end of June against the unpopular rule of Morsi,Â accused of concentrating political power in the hands of his Islamist backersÂ and of failing to address economic woes.
He was deposed by the military onÂ July 3Â in what his supporters say was anÂ armed “coup d’etat” that deepened splits in an already highly divided society.
Meanwhile, international criticism of the bloodshed mounted, with GermanyÂ and Qatar jointly condemning the “brutal violence” and United Nations boss BanÂ Ki-moon urging “maximum restraint” and “de-escalation” at what he termed aÂ ”dangerous moment” for Egypt.
The siege of the Al-Fath mosque in Ramses Square beganÂ on Friday, withÂ security forces surrounding the building where Islamists were sheltering andÂ trying to convince them to leave.
The Islamists had lined up the bodies of dozens of protesters who had beenÂ killedÂ on FridayÂ inside the mosque-turned-morgue.
ByÂ SaturdayÂ afternoon, the situation turned violent, with an AFP reporterÂ at the scene saying gunmen inside the mosque were trading fire with policeÂ outside.
Police eventually dragged people from inside the mosque, firing in the airÂ to hold back residents who tried to attack the Islamists with sticks and ironÂ bars.
Both outside the mosque and in other parts of Cairo, residents targetedÂ those suspected of being Islamists, often for no more than wearing a beard orÂ a veil.
The tense siege came at the end of “FridayÂ of anger” demonstrations calledÂ by Morsi’s supporters that left at least 173 people dead across the country,Â including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria.
Among those killedÂ on FridayÂ was a son of Mohamed Badie, chief of Morsi’sÂ Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The interior ministry said it had arrested 1,004 Brotherhood “elements”Â during the unrest, andÂ on SaturdayÂ security sources said the brother ofÂ Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri had been detained.
Security sources also said one soldier was killed in northern Sinai whereÂ militants have launched daily attacks against security forces
‘Huge amount of self-control’Â Egypt’s interim army-backed government has defended the crackdown, withÂ presidential adviser Mustafa Hegazy saying forces had acted with “a hugeÂ amount of self-restraint and self-control”.
The cabinet has also insisted the security services were acting to confrontÂ a “terrorist plot”.
But international criticism poured inÂ on Saturday, with German ForeignÂ Minister Guido Westerwelle saying he and his Qatari counterpart were “deeplyÂ distressed by the ongoing and brutal violence in Egypt.”
Westerwelle urged the two sides to resume dialogue, citing a “danger ofÂ civil war.”
EU leaders have pledged a strong response to the violence, which the bloc’sÂ foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has described as “shocking”.
LateÂ Saturday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called his EgyptianÂ counterpart to express London’s “condemnation of all acts of violence, whetherÂ disproportionate use of force by the security forces or violent actions byÂ some demonstrators.”
Attacks on mosques and churches were “unacceptable,” stressed Hague.Â Islamists have torched churches of the country’s minority Christians, whomÂ they accuse of backing Morsi’s ouster.
Elsewhere, thousands marched in Turkey against Morsi’s ouster, and theÂ Vatican said Pope Francis was following events with “mounting concern.”
The pontiff was praying for the rival sides to “choose the path of dialogueÂ and reconciliation,” the Vatican said.
The United States has announced the cancellation of its biannual militaryÂ exercise with Egypt, but stopped short of suspending $1.3 billion in annualÂ aid.
The US embassy in Cairo said it would stay shutÂ on Sunday, a working day inÂ Egypt, citing the possibility of fresh demonstrations nearby.
Anti-American sentiment has risen in Egypt with Washington’s criticism ofÂ the crackdown.
But the international response has been not uniformly critical. SaudiÂ Arabia and Jordan said they backed Egypt’s fight against “terrorism”.
In neighbouring Libya, meanwhile, an explosive device went off in front ofÂ the Egyptian consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, causing damage but noÂ casualties, a security official said.
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