UK & World News
Egypt Defends Crackdown As UN Council Meets
The Egyptian ambassador to Britain has said the force used in deadly raids on Cairo protest camps was "not at all excessive".
Ashraf El Kholy claimed the crackdown by security forces during a day of violence in which more than 600 people are said to have died had been "so human and so well organised".
The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the unrest, while US President Barack Obama has joined strong international condemnation of the bloodshed.
Speaking at the Egyptian embassy in central London, Mr El Kholy said the camps set up by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi 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.
Earlier, Gehad El Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mr Morsi, said supporters of the group "will always be non-violent".
"We remain strong, defiant and resolved," he said. "We will push (forward) until we bring down this military coup."
During his news conference, Mr El Kholy presented a series of videos which he claimed showed protesters armed with guns attacking police.
"The police used live ammunition in self defence in very few cases," he later told Sky News. "They have maintained law and order in a very civilised way."
Sky's Michelle Clifford said: "The ambassador gave an entirely different account to the many international journalists who have been covering events in Cairo.
"He was portraying an army and a transitional government that was acting in a reasonable, legitimate and proportionate way."
Egyptian authorities have authorised police to use deadly force to protect themselves and key government buildings from attacks, according to state TV.
The country's health ministry said 638 people were killed in nationwide clashes on Wednesday, although the Muslim Brotherhood said the number of dead was at least four times that figure.
The official figure makes Wednesday by far Egypt's single deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Among those killed in Cairo was cameraman Mick Deane, who was part of the Sky News team covering the unrest.
Mr El Kholy, who was asked about eyewitness reports that Mr Deane was shot during a period of relative calm by a sniper positioned in a government building, pledged an investigation into the 61-year-old's death.
Mr Obama has announced the US was cancelling a major joint military exercise with Egypt.
"Given the depths of our partnership ... we've sustained our commitment to Egypt and its people," he said.
"But our traditional co-operation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets."
The Muslim Brotherhood called on its followers to march through Cairo on Thursday. A government building was reportedly set on fire, but there was no repeat of the violence seen on Wednesday.
Authorities cancelled a decision to shorten a night-time curfew imposed on Cairo and 13 other cities.
Restrictions will begin at 7pm, two hours earlier than previously announced, and will last until 6am.