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Morsi supporters defiant after Egypt bloodshed

Supporters of Mohamed Morsi (foreground) clash with opponents of the ousted president in Cairo on July 27, 2013
Supporters of Mohamed Morsi (foreground) clash with opponents of the ousted president in Cairo on Saturday. Morsi supporters pledged to keep up their protests on Sunday, a day after bloody clashes at a Cairo sit-in killed at least 72 people.

Supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi pledged on Sunday to press ahead with their protests, a day after bloody clashes at a Cairo sit-in killed at least 72 people.

Sporadic violence was reported nationwide overnight, including in the Suez Canal city of Port Said.

Saturday's violence in the capital drew international and domestic condemnation, including from Washington, a key backer of the Egyptian army.

Following the clashes near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque where Morsi loyalists have been camped out for weeks, the interior minister pledged to disperse the protests "soon".

Men check the IDs of dead Muslim Brotherhood supporters, at a field hospital in Cairo, on July 27, 2013
Men check the IDs of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, shot shot in the Egyptian capital after violence erupted the night before, at a field hospital in Cairo, on July 27, 2013.

But the violence and the warning did not appear to have thinned the ranks at the Cairo demonstration, where a core group of several thousand protesters remained.

And Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said demonstrators were angry but "hugely defiant" after Saturday's deaths.

"There are feelings of agony and anger, but also a very strong feeling of determination," he told AFP.

"People are hugely defiant," he added.

A Egyptian army picture shows people crossing the Nile River to Cairo's Tahrir Square on July 26, 2013
A Egyptian army picture shows people crossing the Nile River to Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

"For us, if we die, we meet our creator and we did so for a just cause... Either we die or we succeed."

At Rabaa al-Adawiya, hundreds of protesters at a time staged mini demonstrations to keep the mood buoyant.

"On Jan 2011, (former president) Hosni Mubarak was strong, but he fell in a peaceful way," said Khaled Khalil, a sociology professor at the protest.

"God willing, Sisi will fall in the same peaceful way," he added, referring to army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the coup that ousted Morsi.

The violence early on Saturday was the bloodiest incident since Morsi's July 3 ouster following huge demonstrations against his rule.

People hold posters of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at a rally in Cairo, on July 26, 2013
People hold posters of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at a rally on Friday in Cairo.

The deaths came after rival protests both for and against Morsi on Friday.

The health ministry said 72 people were killed in Cairo on Saturday, along with nine killed in second city Alexandria a day earlier.

Sporadic violence continued overnight, including in Port Said, where state news agency MENA said 29 people were injured during clashes at the funeral of a Morsi supporter killed in Cairo.

MENA and an eyewitness speaking to AFP said Morsi supporters opened fire during the funeral, but a Brotherhood spokesman said the mourners had come under attack.

A medical source at Port Said's Al-Amiri hospital said it had five people wounded in the clashes, "including two in a critical condition, with bullet wounds to the neck and chest".

A man at the Muslim Brotherhood field hospital in Cairo mourns the death of a relative in clashes, on July 27, 2013
A man at the Muslim Brotherhood field hospital in Cairo on Saturday mourns the death of a relative in clashes overnight.

In Menufiya, in the central Delta region, Morsi opponents set fire to the Brotherhood headquarters, causing no injuries, MENA said.

Morsi supporters on Saturday accused security forces of using live fire against unarmed protesters, but the interior ministry insisted that its forces had only fired tear gas.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim also warned on Saturday that pro-Morsi demonstrations would be dispersed "in a legal fashion" and "as soon as possible".

He called on protesters to "come to their senses" and go home.

The violence prompted international condemnation, with Human Rights Watch accusing Egyptian authorities of "criminal disregard for people's lives".

US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose country contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Egypt, expressed Washington's "deep concern".

A man waves an Egyptian flag at soldiers in armoured vehicles as he walks towards Cairo's Tahrir square, July 26, 2013
A man waves his national flag next to soldiers in their armoured vehicles as he walks towards Cairo's Tahrir square, on July 26, 2013.

In a statement, Kerry called on the authorities to "respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression".

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has infuriated Egypt's interim administration by maintaining his support for Morsi, denounced what he described as massacres.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the authorities to "cease the use of violence against protesters, including live fire, and to hold to account those responsible".

The violence also prompted domestic criticism, with Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a former opposition activist who joined the transitional government, denouncing "excessive use of force" by the authorities.

The head of Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Sunni Muslim authority, also condemned the violence, calling for an "urgent judicial investigation".

But the National Salvation Front, a coalition of leftist and liberal groups, said Morsi's Brotherhood bore some of the blame for its "provocative approach".

The deaths followed a call from General Sisi for a mass show of support for a crackdown on "terrorism".

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians obliged, demonstrating their continued support for Morsi's ouster.

The former president, elected after the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, is being held in custody.

He is accused of "premeditated murder" over his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising.