Riot police backed by armoured vehicles,bulldozers and helicopters Wednesday swept away two encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi,sparking running street battles elsewhere in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. At least 149 people were killed nationwide,many of them in the crackdown on the protest sites.
The military-backed leadership imposed a monthlong state of emergency and night-time curfew.
Clashes broke out elsewhere in the capital and other provinces,injuring more than 1,400 people nationwide,as Islamist anger spread over the crackdown on the 6-week-old sit-ins of Morsi supporters that divided the counrty. Police stations,government buildings and Coptic Christian churches were attacked or set ablaze.
The assault to take control of the two sit-in sites came after days of warnings by the interim administration that replaced Morsi after he was ousted in a July 3 coup. The camps on opposite sides of the Egyptian capital began in late June to show support for Morsi. Protesters _ many from Morsis Muslim Brotherhood _ have demanded his reinstatement.
The violence drew condemnation from other predominantly Muslim countries,but also from the UN and the United States,which said the crackdown will only make it more difficult for Egypt to move forward.
The smaller camp was cleared relatively quickly,but it took hours for police to take control of the main sit-in site,which is near a mosque that has served as the epicentre of the pro-Morsi campaign.
Police dismantled the main stage of the larger camp near the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City,the official MENA news agency said. An AP reporter saw hundreds of protesters leaving the sit-in site carrying their personal belongings.
Smoke clogged the sky above Cairo and fires smoldered on the streets,lined with charred poles and tarps after many tents were burned.
In imposing the state of emergency,the government ordered the armed forces to support the police in restoring law and order and protect state facilities. The night-time curfew affects Cairo and 10 provinces.
The Egyptian Central Bank instructed commercial banks to close branches in areas affected by the chaos,a sign of alarm that the violence could spiral out of control. The landmark Giza Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum also were closed to visitors for the day as a precaution,according to the Ministry of Antiquities.
Morsi has been held at an undisclosed location. Other Brotherhood leaders have been charged with inciting violence or conspiring in the killing of protesters.
The world cannot sit back and watch while innocent men,women and children are being indiscriminately slaughtered. The world must stand up to the military juntas crime before it is too late, said a statement by the Brotherhoods media office in London emailed to AP.
Egypt Vice-President ElBaradei resigns
Egyptian Vice President Mohammed ElBaradei resigned Wednesday,saying his conscience was troubled by loss of lives when security forces cracked down on Morsis supporter. It has become too difficult to continue bearing responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear, ElBaradei,71,said. He said there were more peaceful means to solve the countrys crisis. PTI
World condemns violence
The White House condemned the violence,saying it will only make it more difficult for Egypt to move forward. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the violence runs counter to the pledges made by Egypts interim government. He said the world is watching what is happening in Cairo and urged restraint.
Confrontation and violence is not the way forward to resolve key political issues… The countrys democratic future will depend on a dialogue among all concerned aimed at overcoming differences in an inclusive process of political reconciliation,with a fully empowered civilian government and functioning democratic institutions, foreign policy chief,Catherine Ashton.
Turkeys government,consistently critical of the ouster of Morsi,harshly criticized the crackdown. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans office called the violence a serious blow to the hopes of a return to democracy. It also blamed other unnamed countries for encouraging the government after Morsis ouster on July 3.
The putchist authorities in Egypt have committed a massacre against peaceful protesters… The Ennahda movement follows with pain and horror this abject crime…against people and revolution, Rachid Ghannouch,president of governing moderate Islamist party Ennahda,said.
Prime Minister David Cameron said violence is not going to solve anything. What is required is a genuine transition to a genuine democracy. That means compromise from all sides… We dont support this violence,we condemn it completely,its not going to solve the problems.
Irans Foreign Ministry condemned the crackdown,warning the violence strengthens the possibility of civil war.