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Egypt State Of Emergency Declared Following Police Crackdown

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Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Finn

CAIRO, Aug 14 (Reuters) - At least 95 Egyptians were killed on Wednesday after security forces moved in on protesters demanding the reinstatement of President Mohamed Mursi, and the government imposed a state of emergency as unrest swept the most populous Arab nation.

Troops opened fire on demonstrators in violence that brought chaos to areas of the capital and looked certain to further polarise Egypt's 84 million people between those who backed Mursi and the millions who opposed his brief rule.

The state of emergency, starting at 1400 GMT on Wednesday, was to last a month.

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In the streets around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in northeast Cairo, where thousands of Mursi supporters have staged a sit-in for the last six weeks, riot police wearing gas masks crouched behind armoured vehicles, tear gas hung in the air and burning tyres sent plumes of black smoke into the sky.

At a hospital morgue nearby, a Reuters reporter counted 29 bodies, including that of a 12-year-old boy. Most had died of gunshot wounds to the head. A nurse at the same hospital had said she counted 60 bodies, and expected the number to rise.

The unrest spread beyond the capital, with the cities of Minya and Assiut, and Alexandria on the northern coast, also affected. Seventeen people were killed in the province of Fayoum south of Cairo. Five more died in Suez.

Mohamed El-Beltagi, a leader of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement that led the protests, warned of wider conflict and singled out the head of the armed forces who deposed Mursi on July 3 following mass protests that called for his resignation.

"I swear by God that if you stay in your homes, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will embroil this country so that it becomes Syria. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will push this nation to a civil war so that he escapes the gallows."

Nine hours after the start of the operation, crowds of protesters were still blocking roads, chanting and waving flags as security forces sought to prevent them from regrouping.

"At 7 a.m. they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children," said teacher Saleh Abdulaziz, 39, clutching a bleeding wound on his head.

"They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop."

The West, notably the United States which gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion each year, has been alarmed by the recent violence in the strategic Arab ally that has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the vital Suez Canal waterway. (additional reporting by Michael Georgy, Tom Perry, Shadia Nasralla, Omar Fahmy and Ashraf Fahim in Cairo and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Writing by Mike Collett-White)

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said it plans to hold a demonstration in Cairo today, Reuters reported.

"Marches are planned this afternoon from Al-Iman mosque to protest the deaths," the Islamist group said in a statement.

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Khaled el-Khateeb, an Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman, said 421 people were killed in Wednesday's clashes between police and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, The Associated Press reported.

Over 3,500 were also injured.

FMI: Click here.

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CNN's Arwa Damon, who hid from gunfire on air earlier in the day, told Piers Morgan from Egypt, "It does seem as if journalists are being targeted -- at the very least they are being intimidated."

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The New York Times blog reports: according to the photographer who witnessed the event, it appears that the driver’s efforts to evade rock-throwing protesters, by reversing quickly while driving right at the edge of the bridge, caused the jeep to crash through the barrier to the street below.

Read the full story here.

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Mohamed Tawfik, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., told CNN's Hala Gorani that despite today being the deadliest since 2011, things could have been much worse.

"I feel that if another alternative had been arrived at, such as postponing this for another week or two or month or two, the casualties would have been higher," Tawfik said. "Certainly, this is not something that we're happy with -- any Egyptian loss of life is something that we mourn. Nevertheless, this was the least bad option we had in front of us."

Watch the full interview below.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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According to Joshua Hersh, Egyptians are wary of any U.S. involvement in the current crisis, highlighted by the "meekness" of the State Department's response to today's events.

"Anywhere you go in Cairo right now, [the U.S.] is being accused of befriending the other side to the detriment of the nation," he told HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. "It's fine being an American citizen here, but you sure get an earful about your country."

Watch the full segment here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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--Joanna Zelman

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--Kavitha A. Davidson

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--Kavitha A. Davidson

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--Kavitha A. Davidson

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An Egyptian security force kicks a supporter of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

Check out the rest of these incredibly sobering images here. (Warning: Some photos contain graphic content)

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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--Kavitha A. Davidson

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According to Reuters, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has pledged to tighten security to the stringent levels seen during Hosni Mubarak's rule that largely contributed to his ouster in 2011.

Reuters writes:

Addressing the complaints of many Egyptians who are tired of the insecurity that has blighted the country since Mubarak was toppled in 2011, Ibrahim evoked the days of the deposed autocrat as a model for the future.

"I promise that as soon as conditions stabilize and the Egyptian street stabilizes, as soon as possible, security will be restored to this nation as if it was before January 25, and more," he said.

The 2011 uprising erupted on January 25, deliberately timed by pro-democracy activists to coincide with national police day.

Read the full story here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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Footage filmed by researchers for the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch captures the devastation in Rabaa al-Adawiya on Wednesday.

"One man next to us was shot and fell to the ground as we ran across,” says HRW's Heba Morayef. “Doctors inside the hospital were attempting to operate in crowded hallways with very basic equipment.”

Watch the report in the video below.

--Eline Gordts

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The Los Angeles Times' Jeffrey Fleishman writes that before resigning today, former interim VP Mohammed Elbaradei fiercely opposed the army intervening in pro-Morsi sit-ins and recently warned that such action would lead to widespread violence.

Fleishman writes:

ElBaradei had been heavily criticized by hard-liners for seeking a negotiated solution to the crisis. He had been attacked in newspaper columns and on television talk shows, but he continued to press his case until just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, when the police operation began.

“Those who want to crush the Brotherhood accuse me of being soft. I don't believe my concern over the loss of lives makes me a soft man,” ElBaradei said in a recent television interview. “It's easy to get angry and say we'll crush the Islamists, but it will result in massive deaths.”

Read the full story here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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AP reports that the healthy ministry has raised the total death toll to 278, including 235 civilian casualties and 43 policemen killed.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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Al Jazeera reports that despite Wednesday's bloodshed, including the reported deaths of 149 protesters, pro-Morsi supporters remain resolute in their stand against the country's current rulers.

One such protester, Abdelhraman Gamal Mohamed, 25, was stopped by police on his way to a sit-in.

"They want today to scare us, but they are stupid - this fire won't scare us, it won't stop us from getting our freedom," Mohamed told Al Jazeera. "Live free or die, that is what we believe - and we will die for this. We will die for our future."

Read the full Al Jazeera report here.

--Ryan Craggs

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From Reuters:

Western allies warned Egypt's military leaders right up to the last minute against using force to crush protest sit-ins by supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, arguing they could ill afford the political and economic damage.

Read the full story here.

-- Eline Gordts

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Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the heavy-handed intervention by Egyptian security forces while calling for the state of emergency to be lifted "as soon as possible," AP reports.

"This is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians," Kerry said. "The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering."

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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CNN reports that Egypt's healthy ministry has raised the casualty figures from 149 to 211 dead.

Read more here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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Reuters reports that Egyptian security forces will prohibit further sit-ins from taking place.

"We will not allow any other sit-in in any square in any place in the country," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a televised news conference.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi take cover from Egyptian security forces fire during clashes in Rabaah Al-Adawiya in Cairo's Nasr City district, Egypt, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

--Ryan Craggs

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In her daily press briefing, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that the administration is not yet willing to call Morsi's July 3 ouster a "coup," while also rejecting the characterization of Thursday's violent clashes as "civil war."

Watch the live briefing here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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This concise AP interactive shows the key events, main players and an overview of all that's going on now and all that has led up to Wednesday's violence in Egypt. Take a look here:

--Ryan Craggs

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