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Islamists vow to bring down 'military coup'

Govt say over 270 people have been killed while the Muslim Brotherhood say the toll is at 2,200.

Reporters run for cover during clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police in Cairo on 14 August 2013. Picture: AFP.

CAIRO - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday it will bring down the "military coup" but stressed it remained committed to a peaceful struggle, despite the heavy loss of life when government forces broke up its protest camps.

"We will always be non-violent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved," Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad wrote on his Twitter feed. "We will push (forward) until we bring down this military coup."

Islamists clashed with police and troops who used bulldozers, teargas and live ammunition on Wednesday to clear out two Cairo sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque and Nahda Square that had become a hub for support of the Muslim Brotherhood's resistance to the military after it deposed President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

The Muslim Brotherhood has urged its supporters to stay on the streets and has vowed the deaths will be avenged.

The crackdown can be regarded as the worst nationwide bloodshed in decades.

Government officials say more than 270 people have been killed, while, the Muslim Brotherhood puts the number at around 2,200.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a news conference 43 members of the police force were killed during clashes.

Three journalists are also among the dead.

At the site of one Cairo sit-in, garbage collectors cleared still-smouldering piles of burnt tents on Thursday.

Soldiers dismantled the stage at the heart of the protest camp. A burnt out armoured vehicle stood abandoned in the street.

GLOVES ARE OFF

Speaking to 702 Talk Radio's John Robbie on Thursday morning, Professor Abdulkader Tayob from the University of Cape Town (UCT) said the situation appears to be getting worse by the day.

"Yesterday it seemed like the gloves came off. It's very clear that the army wants to put itself into position. A lot of the ministers in the interior government are army generals."

Global condemnation has been levelled at the government's bloody crackdown on protesters.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for the United Nations Security Council to convene quickly and act after what he described as a massacre in Egypt.

"Those who remain silent in the face of this massacre are as guilty as those who carried it out. The UN Security Council must convene quickly."

The military-installed government declared a state of emergency in response to the violence and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Cairo and other cities.

Vice President Mohamed El Baradei resigned in dismay, after force was used instead of negotiations to end the six-week stand-off.

Other liberals and technocrats in the interim government did not follow suit.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi spoke in a televised address of a "difficult day for Egypt", but said the government had no choice but to order the crackdown to prevent anarchy spreading.

"We found that matters had reached a point that no self-respecting state could accept."

*Additional reporting by Reuters

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