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CAIRO — Egyptian authorities today significantly raised the death toll from clashes the previous day between police and supporters of the ousted Islamist president, saying more than 500 people died and laying bare the extent of the violence that swept much of the country and prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency and a night-time curfew.
The death toll, which stood at 525, according to the latest Health Ministry figures, makes Wednesday by far the deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled long-time ruler and autocrat Hosni Mubarak — a grim milestone that does not bode well for the future of a nation roiled in turmoil and divisions for the past 2½ years.
Health Ministry spokesman Khaled el-Khateeb put the number of the injured on Wednesday at 3,717.
Near the site of one of the smashed encampments of ousted President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters in the eastern Nasr City suburb, an Associated Press reporter today saw dozens of blood soaked bodies stored inside a mosque. The bodies were wrapped in sheets and still unclaimed by families.
Relatives at the scene were uncovering the faces in an attempt to identify their loved ones. Many complained that authorities were preventing them from obtaining permits to bury them.
El-Khateeb said 202 of the 525 were killed in the Nasr City protest camp, but it was not immediately clear whether the bodies at the mosque were included in that figure.
Wednesday’s violence started with riot police raiding and clearing out the two camps, sparking clashes there and elsewhere in the Egyptian capital and other cities.
At least 525 civilians were killed nationwide, many of them in the crackdown on the protest sites.
Forty-three members of Egypt’s police force were among those killed, the ministry said.
Thousands of Morsi’s supporters had been camped at two major sites in Cairo since before he was toppled by the army on July 3, and had vowed not leave the streets until he was returned to power. The death toll continues to rise, with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood saying the actual number of dead is more than 2,000.
Police are reported to have arrested key Brotherhood leaders.
There have been calls for pro-Morsi supporters to head back out onto the streets of Cairo, despite an overnight curfew.
Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said: “We are seeing people being stopped at checkpoints, IDs being checked… If they have no reason being on the streets they are being taken to the side.”
Armoured bulldozers moved into the two protest camps in Cairo shortly after dawn on Wednesday morning, firing bird shots and tear gas.
Snipers fired on the square from surrounding buildings while helicopters hovered overhead and armoured bulldozers ploughed over the protesters’ makeshift defences.
Masked police tore down tents and set them ablaze.
“They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children,” said Saleh Abdulaziz, 39, a secondary school teacher clutching a bleeding wound on his head.
Police took full control of the Rabaa al-Adawiya camp by Wednesday afternoon, according to the state news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson, said smaller groups had been congregating in squares and streets after the protest camp was cleared out.
“Just because they’re leaving Rabaa Square doesn’t mean that they’re leaving protests altogether,” she said.
Al Jazeera’s Omar Al saleh takes a look at some of the scenarios.
Violence spread beyond Cairo, with deadly clashes in the cities of Alexandria, Fayoum and Suez.Earlier on Wednesday, security forces took control of Nahda Square, the smaller of the two sit-ins, using tear gas and bird shots.
Two journalists were killed during the violence. Mick Deane, a cameraman for the UK-based Sky News channel, and Habiba Abd Elaziz, a reporter for the UAE-based Xpress newspaper, died from bullet wounds.
http://www.cleveland.com/world/index.ssf/2013/08/egypt_clashes_leave_more_than.html (by Associated Press)