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CAIRO---Deadly clashes broke out
during funerals of slain supporters of
Egypt's ousted Islamist president yes-
terday, as the leader of the Muslim
Brotherhood urged his supporters to
stand fast after more than 70 of them
were killed in weekend violence.
Setting the stage for more confronta-
tion, the military-installed interim pres-
ident gave the prime minister the power
to grant the military the right to arrest
civilians in what government officials
said could be a prelude to a major crack-
down on Mohammed Morsi's supporters
or Islamic militants who have stepped
up attacks against security forces in the
The extent of the bloodshed has
dashed hopes of reconciliation between
the country's two camps, sharply divided
over the July 3 military coup that
removed Egypt's first freely elected pres-
ident following protests by millions of
Egyptians demanding he step down.
Islamists staunchly reject the new
leadership and insist the only possible
solution to the crisis is to reinstate Morsi.
Meanwhile, the interim leadership is
pushing ahead with a fast-track tran-
sition plan to return to a democratically
elected government by early next year.
Egypt's interior minister, who is in
charge of the police, also pledged to
deal decisively with any attempts to
destabilise the country, a thinly veiled
warning to Morsi supporters occupying
two squares in Cairo in a monthlong
stand-off with security forces.
The international community, mean-
while, urged restraint.
US Secretary of State John Kerry
issued a strongly worded statement on
Saturday, saying he told Egyptian
authorities it is "essential" they respect
the right to peaceful protest. He called
on all sides to enter a "meaningful polit-
ical dialogue" to "help their country
take a step back from the brink."
The worst bout of violence since
Morsi's ouster took place before dawn
on Saturday when police and armed
men in civilian clothes opened fire on
his supporters as they sought to expand
their sit-in camp by moving onto a
nearby main boulevard.
Authorities conceded that the vast
majority in Cairo of the 72 killed were
demonstrators, but the Interior Ministry
said some policemen also were wounded
as the military-backed administration
sought to defend the bloodshed.
Officials from Morsi's Brotherhood
and their allies decried what they called
a new "massacre" against their side,
which occurred only weeks after July 8
clashes with army troops in Cairo that
left more than 50 Morsi supporters dead.
Civilians, sometimes with weapons,
frequently join police in Cairo demon-
strations. In some cases, they appear
to be plainclothes police; in others res-
idents who back the security forces.
A video posted yesterday on social
networking sites showed policemen
and men in civilian clothes pointing
their rifles at the protesters wearing
industrial helmets and homemade body
armour and standing behind makeshift
Another video, posted by the Interior
Ministry, showed protesters hurling
stones and firebombs at the security
forces from behind their barricades.
One masked man was shown shooting
at the police with what appeared to
be a large silver-plated pistol.
The authenticity of the videos could
not be independently verified, but they
generally conformed with Associated
No army troops were on the scene,
but the international community and
human rights groups expressed concern
that the military had allowed the car-
nage to occur.
Human Rights Watch said many of
those killed over the weekend were
shot in the head or chest and the
killings took place over several hours.
The New York-based group said it
spoke to witnesses and reviewed exten-
sive video footage of the events. Med-
ical staff, it said, judged some of the
deaths to be targeted killings because
the position of the shots would likely
result in death.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
asked security forces to "act with full
respect for human rights" and demon-
strators to "exercise restraint."
Morsi backers remain defiant in Egypt...
leaves 72 dead
Opponents of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate at Tahrir
Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday. Security forces clashed with supporters of
Morsi early Saturday in an outburst of violence that put the possibility of political
reconciliation in the deeply divided nation ever further out of reach. AP PHOTO
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