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Turkey seeks UN Security Council meeting on Egypt violence

The Turkish prime minister has advocated a swift UN Security Council meeting to discuss what he described as a "massacre" in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt. Hundreds were killed in clashes on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to convene and address the Egyptian authorities' crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. The security forces' violent clearance of two pro-Morsi protest camps, and the other clashes that followed, claimed in excess of 500 lives on Wednesday.

"Those who remain silent in the face of this massacre are as guilty as those who carried it out," Erdogan told reporters in the capital Ankara. "The UN Security Council must convene quickly." Turkey was one of the regional powers that welcomed Morsi's election.

The Egyptian Health Ministry issued a string of revised death tolls on Thursday morning, eventually saying 525 people were killed around the country on Wednesday. The ministry said 202 of them were protesters killed at the main Rabaah al-Adawiya pro-Morsi protest camp in Cairo.

Members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood put the death toll among their supporters far higher, often in excess of 2,000.

The Egyptian government imposed a state of emergency and a Cairo curfew on Wednesday, leading to reports of a comparatively quiet night around the country as most people stayed indoors.

Vice President and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in protest over the interim government's decision to forcibly clear the sit-ins. He said the loss of life troubled him, "particularly as I believe it could have been avoided."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, on an official visit to Tunisia, called the Egyptian ambassador to the foreign office in Berlin on Thursday.

"A spiralling escalation of violence cannot be allowed to start now," Westerwelle said in Tunis.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday morning also summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Paris.

International plan shunned?

The Reuters news agency reported that Western countries had warned army commander General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi not to move in on the Brotherhood's makeshift camps - the largest of which was established near Cairo's Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque shortly before the president was ousted on July 3.

"We had a political plan that was on the table, that had been accepted by the other side [the Muslim Brotherhood]," EU envoy Bernardino Leon told Reuters by phone on Wednesday. "They could have taken this option. So all that has happened today was unnecessary."

Leon led international mediation in the dispute with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Burns' superior, Secretary of State John Kerry, also had harsh words for the Egyptian authorities.

"In the past week, at every occasion … we and others have urged the government to respect the rights of free assembly and of free expression, and we have also urged all parties to resolve this impasse peacefully and underscore that demonstrators should avoid violence and incitement," Kerry said.

The camp clearance spawned further violence around Egypt. The interim government accuses Brotherhood members of attacking the finance ministry building, police stations and several churches belonging to Egypt's largely Coptic Christian minority. Many front pages in Egypt on Thursday carried images of Morsi supporters with stones or other weapons fighting police or other civilians.

msh/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)