August 16, 2013 (TSR) – Hundreds of Morsi supporters have stormed a government building in Giza and set it on fire, reports Egypt state TV.
The Muslim Brotherhood called for a “Friday of anger” after 623 people were killed in a brutal crackdown on their protest camps, as the UN urged “maximum restraint” from all sides.
Gehad Al-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman, announced Friday’s marches on his Twitter account.
“Anti-coup rallies… will depart from all mosques of Cairo and head towards Ramsis Square after (traditional Friday) prayer in ‘Friday of Anger,'” he wrote.
With the country under a state of emergency and many provinces hit by night-time curfews, the interior ministry ordered police to use live fire if government buildings came under attack.
International criticism of the violence poured in and the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on the crisis.
The Giza incident was confirmed by interior ministry sources, who said that protesters had been flinging Molotov cocktails at the building and firing live ammunition. However, government employees managed to evacuate the main colonial-style vialla building before it fell under siege.
Earlier, it was reported that Muslim Brotherhood supporters set on fire the governorate headquarters in Cairo. This is yet to be confirmed.
In Giza, a nearby four-story administrative buildings was torched alongside the governorate building. People could be seen frantically trying to escape from the top levels of a block in the area with the aid of firefighters.
The affected Giza government offices are situated on Pyramids Street, on the west bank of the River Nile.
The burst of anti-government activity in the capital shortly follows a hundred-strong march in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.
Protesters have been chanting “We will come back again for the sake of our martyrs,” despite the violent clearing of two protest camps on Wednesday.
The march eventually turned violent as Muslim Brotherhood supporters clashed with local residents. At least three people were killed and 55 others sustained injuries there, reports Al Arabiya.
The Muslim Brotherhood called for marches and sit-ins to continue throughout Friday as a show of solidarity for previous rallies and those who were killed when security forces cleared the two main camps in the capital.
The suppression prompted outcry from the international community, which demanded that the violence be halted.
The interim government declared a state of emergency and a curfew, stating that new protest camps would not be allowed.
In Jordan, Morocco and the Palestinian territories, hundreds also joined demonstrations in support of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
An AFP correspondent counted at least 19 bodies in one Cairo mosque, while eyewitnesses said more than 20 corpses had been laid out in a second mosque.
Security sources and the health ministry reported at least 31 dead, including four in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya and another eight in northern Damietta.
In Cairo, streets were virtually deserted except for demonstrators and security forces, with the army deploying at key points in the city.
In New York, the Argentine ambassador to the UN, Maria Cristina Perceval, whose country currently presides over the Security Council, said member states regretted the loss of life in Cairo, AFP reports.
She called for an end to the violence and spoke of the need to advance “national reconciliation,” while the Council itself refrained from issuing a resolution or statement.
US President Barack Obama responded by announcing the cancellation of a joint US-Egyptian military exercise.
“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,” he said.
For its part, Egypt’s presidency responded defiantly to Obama’s remarks, warning that “statements not based on facts may encourage violent armed groups.”
“The presidency appreciates US concern for developments in Egypt, but it wished it could have clarified matters,” said the statement on the official MENA news agency.
Governments in several European capitals also summoned Egyptian envoys to voice their concern.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called Friday for the bloc to adopt “appropriate measures” in response.
But Egypt’s cabinet issued a defiant statement, even as clashes continued in the hour before a night-time curfew began, saying it was confronting a “terrorist plot”.