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Egypt interior minister issues warning as Morsi supporters continue sit-ins

Egypt's interior minister has warned against attempts to destabilize the country. Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, meanwhile, have pledged to continue protesting after 72 people were killed in Cairo.

"I assure the people of Egypt that the police are determined to maintain security and safety to their nation and are capable of doing so," Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told a national police academy graduation ceremony on Sunday. "We will very decisively deal with any attempt to undermine stability."

Ibrahim's comments came after 72 people were killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces near a Cairo sit-in. It was the single deadliest instance of violence since the military removed Morsi from office on July 3.

Morsi supporters defiant

Despite the violence, which has spread to other areas, Morsi's Islamist backers vowed on Sunday to continue demonstrating. A core group of several thousand protesters remained camped out at a site near the Rabaa al-Adaqiya mosque in the capital city on Sunday.

Watch video 01:38

Egypt: deaths and injuries after street battles

"They will not be content until they bring back everything from the era of the corrupt, murderous security and intelligence state," senior Muslim Brotherhood official Essam el-Erian wrote on Facebook. "They've stepped up their efforts to do so by committing massacres never before seen in Egyptian history."

In addition to the bloodshed in Cairo Saturday, nine people were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. The state news agency MENA also reported that 15 people were injured in Port Said during clashes at the funeral of a Morsi supporter killed in Cairo.

Morsi supporters have accused the government of using live fire ammunition in their efforts to curb protests, but authorities claim they have only used tear gas.

International condemnation

Saturday's violence prompted condemnation from many foreign leaders. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edrogan, who has continued to support Morsi, called the events a massacre. Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague urged authorities to stop the violence and "hold to account those responsible."

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Egypt's security forces must respect the rights of peaceful protesters.

"At this critical juncture, it is essential that the security forces and the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations," Kerry said.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she "deeply deplores" the deaths in Cairo. The office of Egypt's vice president confirmed that Ashton was traveling to Cairo Sunday to meet with Interim President Adly Mansour and Vice President for International Relations Mohamed ElBaradei. MENA also said she would hold talks with members of the Brotherhood and the Tamarod movement that organized the protests calling for Morsi's ouster.

dr/tm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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