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Obama cancels military drills amid rising death toll

President Obama announced the cancellation of next month’s joint military exercises with Egypt, while leaving more than $1 billion in annual military aid in place, as the United States reviews its relations with the most populous Arab nation in the wake of the violence. With at least 638 people killed, the violence marks the deadliest day in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. The Post’s Liz Sly and Abigail Hauslohner are reporting from Cairo. Read our report here.

People mourn sitting next to bodies of their relatives  at El-Iman mosque in Cairo, on Aug. 15, 2013. (Ap)

People mourn sitting next to bodies of their relatives at El-Iman mosque in Cairo, on Aug. 15, 2013. (Ap)

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Roundup of headlines from Wednesday, Aug. 14

Here is a summary of headlines from some of Wednesday’s major developments.

- Egypt’s Health Ministry raised the civilian death toll in Wednesday’s clashes to 235, bringing the total number of dead to 278, according to the Associated Press. Events turned violent after security forces used bulldozers to storm and dismantle two sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

- Egyptian officials said that several senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested, including Mohamed el-Beltagy, whose 17-year- old daughter was shot and killed Wednesday morning.

Two journalists were killed and at least a dozen more were injured, arrested or threatened during the violent clashes. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it has documented at least 78 assaults on journalists in Egypt from August 2012 until Morsi’s removal from office in early July.

- Numerous reports and images emerged of churches that have been attacked and burned elsewhere in the country.

- Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned, saying, “It has become difficult for me to hold responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with, whose consequences I fear.”

- The Egyptian presidency declared a state of emergency for one month, starting 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The government also imposed a nighttime curfew in Cairo and other key provinces, to be in force from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 9:01 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 9:01 am

Egypt death toll is raised to 525

A day after bloody clashes left hundreds dead in Cairo following a police raid of two camps of supporters of ousted president Mohamed, Egypt’s Health Ministry has raised the official death toll to 525.

The Muslim Brotherhood says the actual number of dead is far more than what the Ministry of Health claims. Brotherhood’s spokesman Gehad el-Haddad tweets:

As The Post’s Abby Hauslohner reports, Wednesday was the deadliest day in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and the fallout dealt a further blow to the prospect that the country might resume its path toward democracy.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 9:05 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 9:05 am

Inside the hospital in Rabaa

Alice Fordham, a reporter for the National, based in Abu Dhabi, posted this image from from Rabaa al-Adawiya, which was one of the sites of bloody clashes on Wednesday.

Heba Morayef, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt, posted this image of people going through ID cards inside the mosque to find out if their relatives were among the dead.

Fordham’s tweets from the Liltaqmeen al-Sahy Hospital in Nasr City, which is close to Rabaa, give a sense of the chaos inside the medical center.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 9:15 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 9:15 am

Haunting aerial footage of Cairo

An aerial footage published by the BBC shows Cairo burning, with multiple fires on the street corners, a vehicle ablaze on the bridge, and absolutely no one on the streets of a city that is usually vibrant at that time of night.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 9:22 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 9:22 am

Obama to make a statement on Egypt

The White House says President Obama will make a statement on Egypt at 10:15 EST, from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is on a vacation.

In an article published late Wednesday, Reuters said that the bloodshed may have forced the Obama administration to consider adopting a more muscular stance toward Egypt’s military.

As a first step, two U.S. officials said, the administration might respond to the violence in which more than 200 people were killed by scrapping the “Bright Star” exercises, which occur every two years and are a major point of pride for the Egyptian military.

“They’re taking a hard look at it,” said a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

 

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 9:43 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 9:43 am

Charred bodies at Cairo mosque

More than 200 charred and mutilated bodies remain at a mosque in Cairo, uncounted and unacknowledged by the state, according to this vivid piece by Reuters, which compared the scene to the “aftermath of a battle from World War One.”

Helpers at the Al-Iman mosque accused the government of ignoring the rows of corpses, laid out in white shrouds to await collection by relatives in a charnel house that looked like the aftermath of a battle from World War One.

Medics pushed burning incense sticks into blocks of ice covering the bodies and sprayed air freshener to cover up the overpowering stench of decay. A cry of “Allahu akbar” (God is Greatest) echoed through a loudspeaker at the back of the mosque.

The Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley shared this image (Warning: very graphic) of one of the charred bodies he saw at the mosque.

A second photo by Kingsley shows bodies covered in white sheets lined up for families to identify.

 

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 10:03 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 10:03 am

Protesters burn government building in Giza

Protesters have stormed a governorate building in Giza and burned it, according to images and videos posted by several journalists in the area. According to the Associated Press, State TV has blamed supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi for the fire.

Associated Press reporters saw the buildings — a two-story colonial style villa and a four-story administrative building — set ablaze on Thursday.

The Giza government offices are located on the Pyramids Road on the west bank of the River Nile.

State TV blamed supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi for the fire. Its footage shows both structures burning with fire men evacuating employees from the larger building.

Russia Today posted this video that shows firefighters trying to put out the fire after the building was set ablaze.

Betsy Hiel, who is reporting from Egypt for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review posted this image.

A photo posted by NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin shows black smoke coming from the burning building.

 

Another image posted by Egypt Independent shows a burning fire truck, which is said to be outside the governorate building.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 10:22 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 10:22 am

President Obama's statement on Egypt

From the Post’s Scott Wilson:

President Obama canceled a joint military exercise with Egypt on Thursday – while leaving more than a billion dollars in annual military aid in place – in a measured response to the government’s violent repression of opposition demonstrations.

Interrupting his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Obama said American “national security interests in this part of the world and the belief that our engagement can support a transition back to democray” has prompted him to maintain $1.3 billion in annual military to Egypt’s interim government.

But after the recent violence against opposition demonstrators, which has left hundreds dead in Cairo and sparked a broader backlash across the nation, Obama said, “Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual.”

Obama said the biannual joint training exercise, known as Bright Star, would not proceed as scheduled next month. The event was also postponed in 2011, after popular protests led to the ouster of Egypt’s longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, but U.S. officials hoped it would resume this year.

The president spoke as the death toll from Wednesday’s government crackdown rose significantly overnight, raising the threat of prolonged violence and enduring military rule on the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Egyptian officials say 525 people were killed, and hundreds more injured, when Egyptian security forces cleared a series of makeshift camps where anti-government protesters had been staging a weeks-long demonstration against last month’s military ouster of elected President Mohammed Morsi.

You can watch the video below:

You can read the full transcript of Obama’s statement here.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 10:30 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 10:30 am

Reactions to canceling military exercise

President Obama’s decision to cancel a biennial joint military exercise with Egypt  – while leaving more than $1 billion dollars in annual military aid in place — is being seen as a symbolic gesture that will have no effect on the Egyptian armed forces’ actions. Reactions to Obama’s statement have been mostly skeptical on Twitter, where the cancellation of the exercise is being likened to, well, many things.

 

 

 

 

 

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 11:10 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 11:10 am

Scene inside al-Iman mosque in Cairo

The Post’s Abigail Hauslohner is at the al-Iman mosque in Cairo, where she says some 200 bodies are awaiting identification and burial.

Anup Kaphle
August 15, 11:27 am
  • Anup Kaphle August 15, 11:27 am
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