Violence in Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood calls for protests as death toll passes 500GALLERY: Clashes in Egypt
The Muslim Brotherhood is urging its supporters to take to the streets in protest after more than 500 people were killed in a crackdown from security forces.
Egyptians emerged on Thursday morning from an all-night curfew imposed after the worst violence since their 2011 uprising, with 525 people killed as security forces broke up protests supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
A health ministry official said at least 525 people had been killed throughout the country, updating an earlier toll. The interior ministry said that 43 security personnel had lost their lives.
The army-backed interim government imposed a month-long nationwide state of emergency and curfews in Cairo and 13 other provinces.
Shortly after the curfew ended on Thursday morning (local time), light traffic began returning to Cairo's streets, with roads blocked for weeks by the pro-Morsi protests now reopened.
Egypt's press carried photos on Thursday of Morsi supporters brandishing weapons and throwing stones at police during the previous day's confrontations.
"The nightmare of the Brotherhood is gone," daily Al-Akhbar's front page headline read.
"The Brotherhood's last battle," added Al-Shorouk.
At least four churches were attacked, with Christian activists accusing Morsi loyalists of waging "a war of retaliation against Copts in Egypt".
The day's violence was the worst since the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, with an AFP correspondent counting at least 124 bodies in makeshift morgues in the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest site.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood spoke of 2,200 dead overall and more than 10,000 wounded.
The violence prompted vice president and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei to resign, saying he was troubled over the loss of life which he thought could have been avoided.
"It has become too difficult to continue bearing responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear," he said.
The dramatic assault on the sit-ins shortly after dawn surprised many, coming after officials had described plans to gradually disperse the sit-ins over several days.
Former diplomat says Egypt facing 'tragic moment'
The violence has rocked reconciliation efforts.
Bob Bowker, a former Australian ambassador to Egypt who is now adjunct professor of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, says it is important that the international community continues to push for reconciliation.
"I think we're facing a tragic moment for Egypt," he told PM.
"The concern that violence could continue is obviously very real, but in addition to that, we're seeing I think the risk of continuing political turmoil, with consequences for the capacity of Egyptians to undertake the security and economic and political reform that they need.
"It's important to keep pushing for the parties to reconcile politically, to try to find a national-level figure that has political credibility and who can find a means to resolve some of the issues of principles that are really dividing Egyptians - the issues of where Islam is to fit into the future political life of the country, the question of how to deal with unemployment and the pressing need for economic reform.
"All of those factors have to be addressed at the political level and only a political formula that is credible in the eyes of usefulness on the one side and the anti-instances on the other can produce that."
Muslim Brotherhood calls for supporters to take to streets
The Brotherhood has urged Egyptians to take to the streets in their thousands to denounce the "massacre".
"This is not an attempt to disperse, but a bloody attempt to crush all voices of opposition to the military coup," spokesman Gehad al-Haddad said on Twitter.
Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim said no more protests would be tolerated, and in several neighbourhoods residents clashed with angry Morsi loyalists.
Europe's leading powers, along with Iran, Qatar and Turkey, strongly denounced the use of force by the interim government.
The White House said Washington, which provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in annual military aid, "strongly condemns" the violence against the protesters and opposed the imposition of a state of emergency.
But Egypt's interim prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi praised the police for their "self-restraint" and said the government remained committed to an army-drafted roadmap calling for elections in 2014.