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Egyptian Security Forces Clear Cairo Mosque

Egyptians in a mosque mourn some of those killed in the military crackdown in Cairo on August 16.
Egyptian security forces say they have cleared a Cairo mosque where Islamist supporters of ousted President Muhammad Morsi had been holed up for hours.

Authorities said a number of arrests were made.

Earlier on August 17, gunfire was heard and tear gas was fired inside the Al-Fateh mosque in central Cairo.

The standoff began after a day of clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters on August 16 in which the government said 173 people died nationwide.

More than 750 have been killed since protests and clashes erupted across Egypt after security forces cleared two camps of Morsi supporters in Cairo on August 14.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm at the rising unrest in Egypt.

In a statement issued on August 17 by his spokesman, Ban urged an end to violent protests and cited what he called the "excessive use of force" in putting them down.

Ban also condemned attacks on churches, hospitals and other public facilities.

The Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi is a senior figure, has vowed to continue daily protests.

A government spokesman, Sherif Shawky, said on August 17 that the military-installed interim government is considering ways of legally dissolving the brotherhood.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi insisted that there could be no rapprochement "with those who have broken the law."

"There is no reconciliation with those whose hands are covered in blood," he said. "There is no reconciliation for anyone who has raised arms against the country, against its people."

The interim government has said it was confronting a "terrorist plot."

According to the Muslim Brotherhood, the son of their leader, Muhammad Badie, was among those killed on August 16.

Authorities said the next day that they had arrested the brother of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri.

The security forces' crackdown has led to international condemnation of Egypt’s military, which removed Morsi from office on July 3 and installed an interim government.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has described the violence as "shocking." Germany said it would review ties with Cairo, while France and Britain called for EU talks to coordinate a response.

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused security forces of taking "grossly disproportionate" action against protesters and called for a full and impartial investigation of this week's bloodshed.

The United States has cancelled a planned joint military exercise with Egypt. Washington, which provides Egypt with more than $1 billion annually in aid, said it was considering additional measures as well.

But the international response has not been completely critical of the Egyptian military authorities.

Saudi Arabian King Abdullah said his kingdom is supporting Egypt in its fight against what he called “terrorism and strife.”

The United Arab Emirates and Jordan also expressed support for the military's efforts.

Mubarak Trial Postponed

Meanwhile, in related news, a court in Egypt has adjourned the hearings for the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak till August 25.

After a brief session at a courtroom in Cairo on August 17, presiding judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi announced the date of the next hearing.

The widening unrest in the country prevented Mubarak and the other defendants from being brought from prison.

The former Egyptian leader is accused of complicity in the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising that forced him to step down.

Mubarak is being held at Tora Prison outside Cairo.

Senior members of ousted President Muhammad Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement have been held in the same facility since they were arrested after he was forced out of office.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, Al-Jazeera, and the BBC
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