Biggest Fashion Sale Of The Year! Shop 12 000 Up To 70% OFF!
Cairo - Egyptian troops backed by armour deployed across Cairo on Friday with the streets almost deserted as residents braced for new Islamist protests, just two days after nearly 600 people were killed.
Soldiers manned roadblocks on major thoroughfares, closing off some of them with armoured personnel carriers as supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi called for a “Friday of anger”, AFP correspondents reported.
The protest call by the Islamists, still reeling from the deaths of 578 people in the country's bloodiest day in decades, raised fears of fresh violence, after the interior ministry ordered police to use live fire if government buildings come under attack.
Residents of some areas formed their own roadblocks, checking identity papers and searching cars.
The international community expressed grave concern, with the president of the UN Security Council pleading for “maximum restraint” after an emergency meeting on the violence.
The European Union said top officials would hold an emergency meeting on the situation in Egypt, where the army-installed government has imposed a nationwide state of emergency and night-time curfews in 14 provinces.
Sporadic violence continued throughout the country in the form of attacks on security personnel, with 13 killed in the Sinai Peninsula in 24 hours.
Gehad al-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman, announced Friday's marches on his Twitter account.
“Anti-coup rallies... will depart from all mosques of Cairo and head towards Ramsis Square after (noon) prayer in 'Friday of Anger,'“ he wrote.
Laila Moussa, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Coup Alliance of Islamist groups opposing Morsi's ouster, said similar protests were planned across the country.
She said Morsi loyalists, including at least two former members of parliament, had been arrested in dawn raids ahead of the protests.
On Thursday, Tamarod, the protest group that organised opposition to Morsi's rule, also urged Egyptians to take to the streets.
It said they should turn out on Friday “to reject domestic terrorism and foreign interference.”
The international community expressed grave concern, with the EU announcing top representatives from all 28 member states would meet on Monday.
France said President Francois Hollande would discuss the crisis with British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government issued a fresh condemnation of the violence.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Egypt, with its president, Argentine ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, calling for an end to the violence and underlining the need for “national reconciliation.”
US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Washington was cancelling a joint US-Egyptian military exercise.
“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” he said.
But despite scrapping the Bright Star exercise, which has been scheduled every two years since 1981, he stopped short of suspending Washington's annual $1.3 billion in aid.
The US State Department warned citizens not to travel to Egypt and called on those already there to leave.
Egypt's presidency responded defiantly to Obama's remarks, warning that “statements not based on facts may encourage violent armed groups.”
“The presidency appreciates US concern for developments in Egypt, but it wished it could have clarified matters,” said the statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
Ankara, which backs Morsi, recalled its ambassador to Cairo over the violence, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Egypt.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay called for “an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces.”
The death toll suggested “an excessive, even extreme, use of force against demonstrators,” she said.
On Thursday, Morsi supporters had called for new protests, but only sporadic marches were reported, all outside of Cairo.
Instead, loyalists focused on retrieving and burying their dead, with more than 200 bodies lined up for identification by grieving relatives in one Cairo mosque.
On Thursday evening, police entered the mosque after a brief standoff with protesters, with state media saying ambulances were to transport dozens of unclaimed bodies to hospitals for identification.
Sporadic violence continued around the country, with activists reporting persistent attacks on churches, allegedly by Morsi loyalists.
The Anti-Coup Alliance condemned the attacks but also accused some Christians of supporting Morsi's ouster.
“Although some Coptic leaders supported or even participated in the coup, no such attacks can be justifiable,” it said. - AFP