WASHINGTON The United States strongly condemned on Monday violence against protesters and sexual attacks on women in Egypt and called on the government to investigate and to hold those responsible to account.
The last 10 days or so have seen violence between protesters and security forces in which 59 people have been killed. In an incident that sparked particular outrage, police were caught on video beating and dragging a naked man during a protest on Friday.
Hundreds more people have been wounded in violence that has flared on and off in Egypt since January 24 - the eve of the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak, an authoritarian ruler and long-time U.S. ally, from power.
The protests have been fueled by anger at what activists see as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's attempt to monopolize power, as well as a sense of social and economic malaise that has settled over Egypt since the uprising.
"Egyptians participated in their revolution in order to bring democracy, in order to bring rule of law and freedom for all - not more violence, not sexual assault, and not looting," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"We strongly condemn the recent violence and the attacks that have taken place in Egypt. We are extremely disturbed by these incidents, including sexual assaults against women and the beating of a defenseless man last week," she added.
"We urge the government of Egypt to thoroughly, credibly and independently investigate all claims of violence and wrongdoing by security officials and demonstrators and to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The man who was beaten, stripped and dragged by police, Hamada Saber, 48, was shown on state television in a police hospital saying protesters had stripped him.
He later reversed his statement and told a public prosecutor that riot police were responsible for the attack.
The president's office said it was investigating the televised incident involving Saber and insisted there would be no return to the violations of human rights that prevailed under Mubarak.
Opposition critics say little has changed, the Interior Ministry remains unreformed and the police have not been purged.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)