CAIRO - With the bloodshed showing little sign of stopping, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has accused security forces of killing dozens of detained Islamists a few hours after Egypt's military leader pledged a "forceful" response to violence rocking the Arab world's most populous state.
"The murder of 35 detained anti-coup protestors affirms the intentional violence aimed at opponents of the coup, and the cold-blooded killing of which they are targets," the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement in English cited Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, August 19.
"The murders show the violations and abuses that political detainees who oppose the July 3 coup get subjected to," it added.
Reports about the killing of 36 Islamists detained in a prison in the outskirts of Cairo appeared on Sunday evening.
There were conflicting reports of how the deaths occurred.
The Interior Ministry said a group of political detainees had tried to escape from the prison, adding that an undisclosed number had been suffocated by tear gas when police moved in to free an officer taken hostage.
"Thirty-six of the prisoners died of suffocation and crowding after tear gas was used to stop their escape," the ministry said.
Offering a very different version of events, a legal source said that men had died from asphyxiation in the back of a crammed police van while being drive to prison.
The deaths came after military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned security forces would confront any further violence from protesters'.
"We will never be silent in the face of the destruction of the country," said Sisi, who overthrew Morsi on July 3 after protests against the Islamist president's rule.
"We are very prepared for this," he said, pledging a "forceful" response to further attacks on police stations and government buildings.
At least 24 Egyptian policemen have been killed in an ambush attack in the Sinai peninsula.
Medical sources and officials said the police were in two buses which came under attack from armed men close to the town of Rafah on the Gaza border.
Three policemen were also reported to have been injured in the blast.
The latest violence comes as European Union ambassadors are meeting in Brussels to discuss the EU's response to the continuing crisis.
European ambassadors were recalled from their summer break for an emergency meeting on the crisis expected to start in Brussels at 0800 GMT.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy have said the EU "will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt".
The European Union has pledged nearly five billion euros ($6.7 billion) in aid to Egypt but the bloc has cautioned this too was under "constant review" after Morsi's ouster.
The EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt," EU leaders Herman van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement on the eve of the talks.
Calling for violence to end "immediately," they stressed that "the calls for democracy and fundamental freedoms from the Egyptian population cannot be disregarded, much less washed away in blood."
The killings in Cairo Abu Zaabal prison were the latest in five days of bloodshed since Wednesday's police and military crackdown on protest camps in Cairo which resulted in the death of hundreds.
A few days ago, the protesters' camps in Rabaa and Nahda squares were broken up, leaving at least 638 dead, according to official sources, and triggering international condemnation.
But, Youssef Talaat, a member of the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, a coalition Islamist parties and figures supportive of Morsi, put the toll at 2,600, Anadolu Agency said.
Further clashes during a "day of rage" called by the Brotherhood last Friday left at least another 173 people across the country dead, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net