278 People Killed in One Day in Egypt -- Global Outcry Steps Up Pressure on US to Suspend Aid to Military
The United States has led a chorus of international concern aboutEgypt’s crackdown on demonstrators, publicly condemning the violence that resulted in the worst loss of life on a single day since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi last month.
The White House said "the world is watching" after a day on which at least 278 people were killed. But there was still no sign that the US was prepared to characterise Morsi’s removal by the army as a coup – which would trigger an automatic congressional ban on $1.3bn in annual aid to the powerful Egyptian military.
"The violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation," said spokesman Josh Earnest.
Lasting stability appeared further away than ever on Wednesday evening after the military declared a month-long state of emergency and the liberal Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as vice-president in the military-backed interim government.
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called on "all Egyptian people" to take to the streets "to stop the massacre" after police attacked its two sit-ins in Cairo’s Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares early on Wednesday.
The alliance is an Islamist grouping led by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been demanding Morsi’s reinstatement as president since he was ousted by the army. Morsi supporters called for further nationwide protests.
Fatalities included the 17-year-old daughter of Mohamed Beltagi, a Brotherhood leader. Three other senior figures were reportedly detained in what appeared to be the start of a wide-ranging crackdown on the Islamist movement. Egypt’s health ministry said that 235 civilians had been killed and 1,400 injured, while Interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim said 43 policemen had died. A statement issued by the Egypt Anti Coup Alliance said "more than 2,000" had been killed.
Trouble also spread beyond Cairo, with reports of a church set on fire in Sohag, 250 miles south of the capital. Ten people were killed in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast.
ElBaradei’s resignation statement underlined the dilemma faced by liberal and secular supporters of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. "It has become difficult for me to hold responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with, whose consequences I fear," ElBaradei said as a curfew was imposed across the country.
"I cannot be responsible for one drop of blood in front of God, and then in front of my conscience, especially with my faith that we could have avoided it." The Nobel laureate said that those who incited "violence and terrorism" – language the government has used to describe the Brotherhood – would only benefit from the turmoil.
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