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Egypt death toll climbs to 51

Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptians to rise up against the army.

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood rallying in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi clash with police outside the elite Republican Guards base in Cairo early on July 8, 2013.  Picture: AFP /Mahmoud Khaled

CAIRO - The number of people killed in Egypt has risen to at least 51 by Monday afternoon.

Demonstrators enraged by the military overthrow of Egypt's elected Islamist president said the army opened fire during morning prayers outside the Cairo barracks where Mohamed Morsi is believed to be held.

But the military said "a terrorist group" tried to storm the Republican Guard compound and one army officer had been killed and 40 wounded.

Soldiers returned fire when they were attacked by armed assailants, according to a military source.

In the deadliest incident since Morsi's removal, emergency services said more than 430 were wounded.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood urged people to rise up against the army, which they accuse of a military coup to topple the leader, threatening an escalation in Egypt's political crisis.

At a hospital near the Rabaa Adawiya mosque rooms were crammed with people wounded in the violence.

"They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets - everything. Then they used live bullets," said Abdelaziz Abdel Shakua, a bearded 30-year-old who was wounded in his right leg.

A spokesman for the interim presidency, Ahmed Elmoslmany, said work on forming the government would go on, though Nour's withdrawal could seriously undermine efforts at reconciling rival factions: "What happened will not stop steps to form a government," he said.

The military has denied that the overthrow was not a coup.

But pro- and anti-Morsi protests took place in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities, and resulted in clashes on Friday and Saturday that left 35 dead.

It leaves the Arab world's largest nation of 84 million people in a perilous state, with the risk of further enmity between people on either side of the political divide while an economic crisis deepens.

SHOTS DURING PRAYER

A Reuters journalist at the scene saw first aid helpers attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a dying man.

Al Jazeera's Egypt channel showed footage from inside a makeshift clinic near the scene of the violence, where Morsi supporters attempted to treat bloodied men.

Seven dead bodies were lined up in a row, covered in blankets and an Egyptian flag. A man placed a portrait of Morsi on one of the corpses.

Footage broadcast by Egyptian state TV showed Morsi supporters throwing rocks at soldiers in riot gear on one of the main roads leading to Cairo airport.

The military overthrew Morsi on Wednesday after mass nationwide demonstrations led by youth activists demanding his resignation. The Brotherhood denounced the intervention as a coup and vowed peaceful resistance.

POLITICAL STALEMATE

Talks on forming a new government were already in trouble before Monday's shooting, after the Nour Party, Egypt's second biggest Islamist party, rejected two liberal-minded candidates for prime minister proposed by interim head of state Adli Mansour, the top constitutional court judge.

The violence has also shocked Egyptians, growing tired of the turmoil that began two-and-a-half years ago with the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising.

BITTER BLOW

For many Islamists, the overthrow of Egypt's first freely elected president was a bitter reversal that raised fears of a return to the suppression they endured for decades under Mubarak.

On the other side of the political divide, millions of Egyptians were happy to see the back of a leader they believed was orchestrating a creeping Islamist takeover of the state.

Washington has not condemned the military takeover or called it a coup, prompting suspicion within the Brotherhood that it implicitly supports the overthrow.

Egypt can ill afford to lose foreign aid. The country appears headed for a looming funding crunch unless it can quickly access money from overseas. The local currency has lost 11 percent of its value since late last year.

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