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August 16, 2013

Death toll soars past 600 in Egypt

CAIRO — Weeping relatives in search of loved ones uncovered the faces of the bloodied, unclaimed dead in a Cairo mosque near the smoldering epicenter of support for ousted President Mohammed Morsi, as the death toll soared past 600 Thursday from Egypt's deadliest day since the Arab Spring began.

World condemnation widened for the bloody crackdown on Morsi's mostly Islamist supporters, including an angry response from President Barack Obama, who canceled joint U.S.-Egyptian military maneuvers.

Violence spread Thursday, with government buildings set afire near the pyramids, policemen gunned down and scores of Christian churches attacked. As turmoil engulfed the country, the Interior Ministry authorized the use of deadly force against protesters targeting police and state institutions.

The Muslim Brotherhood, trying to regroup after the assault on their encampments and the arrest of many of their leaders, called for a mass rally  Friday in a challenge to the government's declaration of a monthlong state of emergency and a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

At least 638 people were confirmed killed and nearly 4,000 wounded in the violence sparked when riot police backed by armored vehicles, snipers and bulldozers smashed the two sit-ins in Cairo where Morsi's supporters had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement. It was the deadliest day by far since the 2011 popular uprising that overthrew autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country into more than two years of instability.

Also on Thursday, The United Nations Security Council called on both the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise "maximum restraint" and end the violence spreading across the country. Council members called for national reconciliation.

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