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Killing of 51 Egyptians triggers uprising call

09 July, 2013

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CAIRO: At least 51 people were killed on Monday when the Egyptian army opened fire on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, in the deadliest incident since the elected Islamist leader was toppled by the military five days ago.

Protesters said shooting started as they performed morning prayers outside the Cairo barracks where Morsi is believed to be held.

But military spokesman Ahmed Ali said that armed men attacked troops in the area around the Republican Guard compound in the northeast of the city.

"The armed forces always deal with issues very wisely, but there is certainly also a limit to patience," the uniformed Ali told a news conference, at which he presented what he said was video evidence, some of it apparently taken from a helicopter.

Emergency services said 435 people were wounded.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood urged people to rise up against the army, which they accuse of a military coup to topple the leader, threatening an escalation in Egypt's political crisis.

"The massacre at the Republican Guard defies description," said Mohamed El-Beltagy, a leading member of the Brotherhood's political wing, on its Facebook page.

At a hospital near the Rabaa Adawiya mosque where Islamists have camped out since Morsi was ousted, rooms were crammed with people wounded in the violence, sheets were stained with blood and medics rushed to attend to those hurt.

"They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets - everything. Then they used live bullets," said Abdelaziz Abdel Shakua, a bearded 30-year-old who was wounded in his right leg.

As an immediate consequence of the clash, the ultra-conservative Islamist Nour party, which initially backed the military intervention, said it was withdrawing from talks to form an interim government for the transition to new elections.

A spokesman for the interim presidency, Ahmed Elmoslmany, said work on forming the government would go on, though Nour's withdrawal could seriously undermine efforts at reconciling rival factions. The military has said that the overthrow was not a coup, and it was enforcing the will of the people after millions took to the streets on June 30 to call for Mursi's resignation.

But pro- and anti-Morsi protests took place in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities, and resulted in clashes on Friday and Saturday that left 35 dead.

It leaves the Arab world's largest nation of 84 million people in a perilous state, with the risk of further enmity between people on either side of the political divide while an economic crisis deepens.

End.

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