Egypt Friday clashes kill 173 people in 24 hours
CAIRO - At least 173 people have been killed across Egypt in the last 24 hours, the government said on Saturday, after clashes between security forces and protesters.
The deaths came after supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets after Friday prayers for nationwide demonstrations that quickly triggered violence.
Clashes also resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 alleged supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
The bloodshed, hot on the heels of the deaths of 578 people following a crackdown on Wednesday, has divided Egyptians as never before in recent history, splintering the army-installed interim government and inviting international censure.
In several parts of Cairo, residents detained people they deemed suspect and handed them over to security forces, in a sign that vigilante justice was beginning to take hold.
Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) pleaded for another "massacre" to be avoided after at least 578 people were killed across the country on Wednesday when police cleared protest camps set up by loyalists of the former president, deposed by the military on July 3.
The latest unrest started as Morsi supporters emerged from mosques in the capital to protest in what they billed as a "Friday of anger" following Wednesday's bloodbath.
Violence erupted almost immediately, with gunshots ringing out in Cairo and security forces firing tear gas.
A correspondent counted at least 19 bodies in one Cairo mosque, while witnesses said more than 20 corpses had been laid out in another.
Elsewhere in Egypt, 10 people were killed by security forces and dozens injured in the canal city of Suez when they gathered to protest in defiance of the curfew.
The demonstrations ended shortly after a night-time curfew came into effect but Anti-Coup Alliance spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said that Morsi loyalists would hold "daily anti-coup rallies" going forward.
The interior ministry said "the number of Muslim Brotherhood elements arrested reached 1,004," including 558 in Cairo alone.
The Egyptian cabinet issued a defiant statement after the unrest, saying it was confronting a "terrorist plot."
"The cabinet affirms that the government, the armed forces, the police and the great people of Egypt are united in confronting the malicious terrorist plot by the Muslim Brotherhood," it said.
And the interior ministry, which authorised police to use live fire if government buildings came under attack, said several attempts to storm buildings had been foiled.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton described the violence as "shocking".
"I have asked member state representatives to debate and coordinate appropriate measures to be taken by the European Union in response to the situation in Egypt," she said.
Germany said it would review ties with Cairo, and joined France and Britain in calling for EU talks on the situation, which are expected to take place on Monday.
Pope Francis was following events with "mounting concern" and was praying for the rival sides to "choose the path path of dialogue and reconciliation," the Vatican press office said.
The United States has announced the cancellation of its biannual military exercise with Egypt, but stopped short of suspending $1.3 billion in annual aid.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International called for a full and impartial investigation into the bloodshed, saying the authorities' response to the protests had been "grossly disproportionate".
But the international response was not uniformly critical. Saudi Arabia and Jordan said they backed Egypt's fight against "terrorism".