Egypt in state of emergency as death toll passes 600 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Egypt in state of emergency as death toll passes 600

Posted: Updated:
Egypt has become a war zone after Morsi supporters say they will not leave. (Source: CNN) Egypt has become a war zone after Morsi supporters say they will not leave. (Source: CNN)
Protestors take to the streets during the deadly clashes between Morsi supporters and Egyptian security forces. (Source: CNN) Protestors take to the streets during the deadly clashes between Morsi supporters and Egyptian security forces. (Source: CNN)
Neighborhoods destroyed after clashes in Egypt on Wednesday. (Source: CNN) Neighborhoods destroyed after clashes in Egypt on Wednesday. (Source: CNN)

(RNN) - In the wake of the bloodiest conflict since Egypt's 2011 revolution, dozens more have died in Friday violence that erupted after the Muslim Brotherhood called for a mass rally despite a  national state of emergency and a curfew.

It brings the total to more than 600 Egyptians dead and 4,000 injured since Wednesday's clash between supporters of ousted President Mohammad Morsi and Egyptian security forces escalated the conflict that began with Morsi's forcible ouster last month.

Leaders on either side of the growing divide rallied their supporters to take to the streets on Friday, according to Aljazeera.  In response, the military deployed units across Cairo and Gaza to curtail the protests, called "Friday of Anger" by Morsi backers.

Tens of thousands took to the streets and the AP reported the death toll at 60 people earlier Friday.

Fighting started on Wednesday when military security forces began bulldozing tents, firing tear gas, and arresting protestors who have been set up in camps for weeks. Snipers fired at protestors trying to escape while riot police surrounded the camps, according to reports from Aljazeera.

In an effort to curtail the violence, the interim government declared a month-long state of emergency and will enforce nighttime curfews in some cities, including Cairo.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called for an end to the violence, saying that it defeats the country's goal for peace.

"Today's events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy," Kerry said. "The Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back. They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life."

As neighborhoods are being destroyed by violence, The New York Times reported that mosques have been turned into makeshift morgues, as hundreds of bodies of those killed in the conflict were brought in. Many of the dead were killed by gunfire.

Mohammed El Baradei, resigned as Egypt's interim vice president of foreign affairs. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who sought out a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the violence said, "I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood."

In light of the violence in Egypt, President Barack Obama is canceling Bright Star, a planned military exercise in the country.

"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," Obama said. "As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our bi-annual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month."

The president has asked his national security team to evaluate the situation and actions by the interim government, which could influence policy toward Egypt moving forward.

Pentagon spokesperson George Little says that by canceling Bright Star, they hope to signal to the Egyptian government that the U.S. is concerned about the recent violence in the country.

"We strongly encourage the government of Egypt to take appropriate measures to move toward a political transition that emphasizes inclusively and emphasizes freedom of assembly and to take steps to restrain from violence and exercise restraint," Little said in a news conferece.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, said that the U.S. is "ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward."

According to the Associated Press, the violence continued on Thursday as police were authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves and important buildings.

The State Department has warned Americans to avoid traveling to the area and those who are currently in the country should leave.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.