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Muslim Brotherhood Calls for More Protests in Egypt

July 08, 2013

by VOA News

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has called for more protests on Tuesday, after 51 people died in Cairo during clashes between the military and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

In addition to those killed Monday, Egypt's Health Ministry said hundreds were wounded in violence near Republican Guard headquarters. Military officials said one soldier was among the dead while others were in critical condition.

Witnesses said the streets near the Republican Guard headquarters filled with tear gas before shots rang out. Muslim Brotherhood officials said the army opened fire without reason, killing men, women and children. A military spokesman said troops fired only after coming under heavy gunfire from what he described as terrorists trying to storm the building.

The army and Muslim Brotherhood have been accusing each other of provoking the violence.

Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour has called for restraint and has ordered a judicial investigation, but the incident has further strained efforts to form a transitional government. The ultra-conservative Salafi Nour Party says it is withdrawing from talks to form a new government, citing what it called a massacre.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is deeply concerned by the increasing violence and what he called a "dangerous level of political polarization" in Egypt. He also said cutting off aid to Egypt would not be in Washington's best interests. Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. financial assistance behind Israel.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged Egypt's military to use "maximum restraint" in responding to protesters. She also called for peaceful demonstrations.

Egyptian pro-reform leader and former Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei condemned the violence and said "peaceful transition is the only way."

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad accused the military of going too far.

"The protesters had their heads bowed to the ground in a Fajr [dawn] prayer. The police fired from one side, the army fired from the other side. Children died, five children, two of them infants, months old. This is tyranny and it cannot be seen any other way," said el-Haddad.

After the incident, VOA's Sharon Behn visited one of the field hospitals run by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo's Nasr City.

"The scene here is quite chaotic. They say that many wounded have been brought in here and that they were shot by the Egyptian military while they were at their prayers. We have seen people with bullet wounds to the head and one with a pretty severe bullet wound to his side. He said they were shot while they were at prayers and that he saw one three-month-old actually get killed right in front of him," said Behn.

Egypt's army announced Morsi's removal from power last Thursday. The army described the move as necessary to enforce the will of millions of people who have repeatedly demanded his resignation.

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