* Cairo clash leaves 51 dead, deepens country's crisis
* Islamist protesters say army fired on them during prayers
* Army says "terrorist group" tried to storm building
* U.S. urges "maximum restraint" from Egypt military
By Alexander Dziadosz and Shadia Nasralla
CAIRO, July 8 At least 51 people were killed on
Monday when the Egyptian army opened fire on supporters of
ousted president Mohamed Mursi, in the deadliest incident since
the elected Islamist leader was toppled by the military five
Protesters said shooting started as they performed morning
prayers outside the Cairo barracks where Mursi is believed to be
But military spokesman Ahmed Ali said that at 4 a.m. (0200
GMT) armed men attacked troops in the area around the Republican
Guard compound in the northeast of the city.
"The armed forces always deal with issues very wisely, but
there is certainly also a limit to patience," the uniformed Ali
told a news conference, at which he presented what he said was
video evidence, some of it apparently taken from a helicopter.
Emergency services said 435 people were wounded.
Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood urged people to rise up against
the army, which they accuse of a coup to topple the president.
The movement's leaders are calling for peaceful resistance, but
the risk remains of fringe elements pursuing a violent agenda.
At a hospital near the Rabaa Adawiya mosque where Islamists
have camped out since Mursi was ousted, rooms were crammed with
people wounded in the violence, sheets were stained with blood
and medics rushed to attend to those hurt.
"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.
Bloody scenes from Cairo, three days after clashes between
pro- and anti-Mursi protesters across the country claimed 35
lives, have alarmed Egypt's allies, including Israel, with which
it has had a U.S.-backed peace treaty since 1979.
Key donor the United States, still refraining from calling
the military intervention a "coup" - a label that would trigger
legal obstacles to continuing aid payments - called on Egypt's
army to exercise "maximum restraint" in dealing with protesters
and on those demonstrating to do so peacefully.
The White House said aid was not about to halt aid to Egypt.
The Egyptian military, recipient of $1.3 billion a year from
Washington, has insisted that the overthrow was not a coup, and
that it was enforcing the "will of the people" after millions
took to the streets on June 30 to call for Mursi's resignation.
The turmoil 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 PRAYERS
As an immediate consequence of the clash, the
ultra-conservative Islamist Nour party, which initially backed
the military intervention, said it was withdrawing from talks to
form an interim government for the transition to new elections.
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
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 Mursi
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 Mursi
on one of the corpses.
Film broadcast by Egyptian state TV showed Mursi supporters
throwing rocks at soldiers in riot gear on one of the main roads
leading to Cairo airport.
Young men, some carrying sticks, crouched behind a building,
emerging to throw petrol bombs before retreating again.
Footage posted on YouTube on Monday showed a man on a
rooftop wearing what appeared to be a military helmet opening
fire with a rifle five times, apparently in the direction of a
crowd in the street below.
In the clip, which could not be independently verified, two
bloodied men were shown carried away unconscious. The military
was not immediately available for comment on the images.
State-run television showed soldiers carrying a wounded
comrade along a rock-strewn road, and news footage showed a
handful of men who looked like protesters firing crude handguns.
The rest of the city was for the most part calm, though
armoured military vehicles closed bridges over the Nile to
traffic following the violence.
Talks on forming a new government were already in trouble
before Monday's shooting, after the Nour Party rejected two
liberal-minded candidates for prime minister proposed by interim
head of state Adli Mansour, the top constitutional court judge.
Nour, Egypt's second biggest Islamist party, which is vital
to give the new authorities a veneer of Islamist backing, said
it had withdrawn from the negotiations in protest at what it
called the "massacre at the Republican Guard (compound)".
"The party decided the complete withdrawal from political
participation in what is known as the road map," it said.
The military can ill afford a lengthy political vacuum at a
time of violent upheaval and economic stagnation.
The violence has shocked Egyptians, growing tired of the
turbulence that began two-and-a-half years ago with the
overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising.
In one of the most disturbing scenes of the last week, video
footage circulated on social and state media of what appeared to
be Mursi supporters throwing two youths from a concrete tower on
to a roof in the port city of Alexandria.
The images, stills from which were published on the front
page of the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper on Sunday, could not
be independently verified.
On Sunday, huge crowds numbering hundreds of thousands
gathered in different parts of Cairo and were peaceful, but
nonetheless a reminder of the risks of further instability.
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
autocratic rulers like 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 - a
charge the Brotherhood has vehemently denied.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she deplored
the loss of life: "All those who claim legitimacy must act in a
responsible way for the good of the country and avoid any
provocation or escalation of violence," she said in a statement.
Washington's decision not to condemn the military takeover
or call it a coup has prompted suspicion within the Brotherhood
that it tacitly supports the overthrow.
Were the United States to decide that Mursi was toppled in a
coup, it would be required by law to cut off annual assistance
of $1.5 billion, most of which goes to the Egyptian military.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the United
States would not immediately cut off aid to Egypt.
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.
On Monday, British energy firms BG Group and BP
said they had pulled 160 expatriate staff out of Egypt
due to spreading unrest, although operations and production were
not expected to be affected.
Egypt's share index lost 3.6 percent on Monday.