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Dozens die in protests across Egypt

Clashes between demonstrators and security forces across Egypt have claimed dozens of lives. The interim government said it is working toward quashing a Muslim Brotherhood "terrorist plot."

At least 50 people, including policemen, lost their lives in another day of violent protests across Egypt, according to security and health officials.

The country's interim government released a statement on Friday defending its armed response to protesters.

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Death toll rises in Egypt

"The cabinet affirms that the government, the armed forces, the police and the great people of Egypt are united in confronting the malicious terrorist plot by the Muslim Brotherhood," it said.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday afternoon in response to a call from the Muslim Brotherhood for a "day of rage" across the nation. The rallies were aimed at denouncing the government's use of lethal force when it cleared two of the group's sit-ins in Cairo earlier this week, killing over 600 people.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been calling for the reinstatement of democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, whom the Egyptian military removed from power on July 3 after public calls for his ouster. He remains imprisoned at an undisclosed location.

Unrest in Cairo

The military deployed vehicles to seal off main squares and junctions in several parts of Cairo in anticipation of violence.

There were reports of gun shots and tear gas in the capital soon after demonstrations began. The interim government has authorized Egyptian security forces to use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings. However, eye witness reports indicated that unidentified gunmen had also taken part in the altercations on Friday.

Protesters also clashed with civilian government supporters. Witnesses reported that some residents threw rocks and glass bottles at the demonstrators, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters reportedly converged on Ramses Square, where they said 25 people were killed in subsequent clashes. Egyptian officials have not confirmed this number.

Violence spreads

In the canal city of Ismailiya, at least four people were reported killed in clashes between Islamist protesters and police.

The health ministry also reported eight dead in the Nile Delta province of Dumyat.

In the southern city of Fayyoum, health and security officials said at least five people had died in the violent demonstrations.

EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton called on EU leaders to organize a "coordinated response" to crisis in Egypt, calling the turn of events on Friday "shocking."

kms/dr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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