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Monday, June 18, 2018

CAIRO (AFP) – Islamists vowed to rally Thursday in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi despite a violent crackdown that sparked Egypt’s worst day of violence for decades, with over 500 people killed.

As the death toll from the carnage soared, condemnation of Wednesday’s crackdown on two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo poured in, with Britain, France and Germany summoning the country’s ambassadors to express concern.

The Brotherhood, the Islamist movement from which Morsi hails, said a march was planned from the Al-Iman mosque in the capital “to protest the death of their relatives”.

The call came after a tense night, following the army-backed interim government’s decision to impose a month-long, nationwide state of emergency and curfews in 14 provinces.

In Cairo, trucks cleared debris from the charred sites of the Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda square protest camps, occupied for weeks by Morsi loyalists, paralysing the area.

Posters of Morsi were strewn next to burnt tins of food, as light traffic returned to the streets.

The health ministry continued to update its toll, saying at least 525 people had been killed across the country on Wednesday, including 43 police.

Despite the violence, Egypt’s press trumpeted the end of the pro-Morsi demonstrations, which had occupied two Cairo squares since the military ousted the Islamist president on July 3.

“The nightmare of the Brotherhood is gone,” the daily Al-Akhbar’s front page headline read.

“The Brotherhood’s last battle,” added Al-Shorouk.

The newspapers carried photos of protesters brandishing weapons and throwing stones, but none from makeshift morgues where dead protesters were lined up in rooms slick with blood.

Residents of Rabaa al-Adawiya said the tension and paralysis caused by the protests had put lives on hold.

“We were hearing gunshots all day… (The dispersal) had to happen. People here were not living,” said Omar Hamdy, 23.

At least four churches were attacked as police broke up the protests, with Christian activists accusing Morsi loyalists of waging “a war of retaliation against Copts in Egypt”.

The day’s violence was Egypt’s worst in decades, exceeding even that seen during the 18-day uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

An AFP correspondent counted at least 124 bodies in makeshift morgues in the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest site and the Brotherhood spoke of 2,200 dead overall and more than 10,000 wounded.

The Islamist movement remained defiant on Thursday, with spokesman Gehad al-Haddad saying demonstrations would continue.