UK & World News
Egypt: Call For Daily Protests As Dozens Die
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has called for a week of daily nationwide protests afterthousands of its supporters rallied in different cities to denounce a violent crackdown on its followers this week.
At least 60 people, including police officers, were reportedly killed on Friday after parts of the country descended into violence.
"We call on the Egyptian people and national forces to protest daily until the coup ends," the Islamist group said in a statement in reference to the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi last month.
Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters clashed with armed vigilantes in the fiercest street battles to engulf the capital since the country's Arab Spring uprising.
Residents battled with protesters taking part in what the Brotherhood called the "day of rage", ignited by anger at security forces for clearing two sit-in demonstrations on Wednesday.
In a counter move, the National Salvation Front - a loose liberal and leftist coalition - called on Egyptians to take to the streets against what it said was "obvious terrorism actions" conducted by the Brotherhood.
Tear gas could be seen during flashpoints in parts of the city, with protesters apparently hurling bottles and rocks at security forces.
State media said one police officer died following an armed attack on a checkpoint in the capital Cairo, where the army has been deployed to guard "important and vital facilities" - and is authorised to use live ammunition.
Reuters reported a security official who said 24 policemen have been killed in the last 24 hours.
Automatic gunfire echoed across Cairo and black smoke billowed from the capital's huge Ramses Square, with a military helicopter hovering overhead looking down on the chaos.
Security officials said at least 12 people died in the square after protesters clashed with residents in the area.
Witnesses reported seeing the bodies of many of the dead in rows in a nearby mosque which had turned into a field hospital.
Early on Friday evening the Brotherhood called for an end to the day's rallies but said it would press on with daily protests.
Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande held talks about the ongoing unrest during a phone call this afternoon. The pair have called for a "strong European message" and urged the EU to review its relations with Cairo.
Germany said it condemned the violence in Egypt "in the strongest terms".
The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup last month when it ousted Mr Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president since Hosni Mubarak was toppled.
Liberal and leftist activists who backed the military saw the move as a positive response to public demands.
Catherine Ashton's European External Action Service said top officials of all 28 European Union members would meet on Monday to review the crisis in Egypt and discuss possible EU action.
She has urged Europe to agree on "appropriate measures".
However, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said his country stood with Egypt in its battle against "terrorism".
With the country under a state of emergency and many provinces hit by night-time curfews, the interior ministry ordered police to use live ammunition if government buildings came under attack.
International criticism of the bloodshed has continued to pour in and the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting last night on the crisis at the request of France, Britain and Australia.
Afterwards, the Argentinian president of the council urged all sides to exercise "maximum restraint".
Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, whose country currently presides over the 15-country body, said member states called for an end to the violence and spoke of the need to advance "national reconciliation".
Signalling his displeasure at the worst bloodshed in Egypt for generations, US President Barack Obama said†normal co-operation between Washington and Cairo could not continue and announced the cancellation of military exercises with Egypt next month.
"We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest," he said.
His remarks sparked a defiant response from the Egyptian presidency which said that "statements not based on facts may encourage violent armed groups".
Despite the condemnation, Egypt's interim prime minister Hazem al Beblawi praised the police for their "self-restraint" and said the government remained committed to an army-drafted roadmap calling for elections in 2014.
He justified the use of force saying supporters of Mr Morsi had been sowing chaos, "terrorising citizens, attacking public and private property".
Egypt's ambassador to Britain has said the force used in deadly raids on Cairo protest camps was "not at all excessive".
Speaking at the Egyptian embassy in London, Ashraf El Kholy said the camps set up by Morsi loyalists were "not as peaceful and innocent" as protesters claimed.
"I think with these number of deaths and this amount of violence, (the protesters) got what they wanted," he said.
While several countries, including the US and France, have advised their citizens not to travel to anywhere in Egypt, UK holiday companies are still operating in parts of the country.