Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have taken to the streets in Egypt in defiance of the military-imposed state of emergency.
The protesters poured out of the mosques after Friday prayers, responding to the group’s call for a “Day of Rage” following the deaths of 638 people on Wednesday.
Riot police backed by armoured vehicles, snipers and bulldozers smashed the two sit-ins in Cairo where ousted President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement.
At least 60 people have died across Egypt yesterday as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters clashed with vigilante residents in the fiercest street battles to engulf Cairo since the country’s Arab Spring uprising.
At least eight police stations were attacked as well, officials said.
The Brotherhood-led marches in Cairo headed toward Ramses Square, near the country’s main train station.
Carrying pistols and assault rifles, residents battled with protesters taking part in what the Brotherhood called the “Day of Rage,” ignited by anger at security forces for clearing two sit-in demonstrations Wednesday in clashes that killed more than 600 people.
Officials say that more than 600 people have been killed and thousands were injured following the violent clashes.
Wednesday’s assault had triggered day-long running battles and deadly clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters elsewhere in Egypt, prompting the Interior Ministry to authorise the use of deadly force against anyone targeting police and state institutions.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande are calling for an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers to discuss the deepening crisis in Egypt.
In a telephone call, the two leaders said the EU needed to consider steps it could take to persuade both sides to end the violence.
“They agreed that the EU should be clear and united in its message: the violence must end immediately and there needs to be a political dialogue, involving all sides, that leads to genuine democracy,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
The Prime Minister and president said they wanted a meeting of EU foreign ministers to be called for next week.
“They should consider what measures the EU can take to make clear that the violence and repression is unacceptable and to best encourage leaders from all sides to re-engage in dialogue and to chart a peaceful way forward for their country,” the spokesman said.
The Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, said the group is not backing down and “will continue to mobilise people to take to the streets without resorting to violence and without vandalism.”
A statement from the group added: “The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation, an Islamic, national, moral, and human obligation which we will not steer away from until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered.”
The revolutionary and liberal groups that helped topple Mr Morsi have largely stayed away from rallying.