WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Obama administration is condemning Wednesday’s violence in Egypt that has left nearly 150 people dead.
Speaking from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where the Obamas are vacationing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest urged restraint and warned Egyptian officials that the “world is watching” the events unfolding in Cairo.
“The violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation,” Earnest said.
Earnest added that the White House is continuing to encourage the interim government to enact political reform.
“Figuring out how to encourage the interim government to make good on their promise to transition to a democratically elected government there is something that we’re working on.” Earnest said. “Hopefully it’s something they’re working on.”
Making an unannounced appearance in the State Department Briefing Room, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the violence in Egypt is a “serious blow” to reconciliation efforts.
Kerry said that the only sustainable path for either side is for a “political solution.”
“The promise of the 2011 revolution has simply never been fully realized,” Kerry said.
At least 149 people have been killed in Wednesday’s violence with many of the dead supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The violence began after Egyptian security forces began firing on pro-Morsi supporters in armored cars and bulldozers, trying to clear sit-in protests.
Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour declared a monthlong state of emergency and ordered security forces to support police to help restore law and order across the country.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was recently in Egypt with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he’s not surprised at the chaos reigning down on Cairo.
“As we predicted and feared, chaos in Cairo,” McCain tweeted. “Sec Kerry praising the military takeover didn’t help.”
McCain and Graham traveled to Egypt last week to warn that the country may be in for prolonged violence without a dialogue between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
They met with army officers, interim political leaders, youth groups and allies of Egypt’s ousted and now imprisoned president, Mohammed Morsi, at the behest of President Obama but did not speak for the administration.
CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward says the “situation in Egypt rapidly spiraling out of control.”
“Security forces have launched an all-out offensive to push those pro-Morsi protesters out of those two camps and as many had predicted, it is quickly turning into a bloodbath with a number of dead and injured continuing to mount,” Ward reported.
Pro-Morsi groups are claiming that the death toll is in the hundreds.
“I urge all the Egyptians to take to the streets and protest against the violent break-up of the sit-ins, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed al-Biltagi told Al Jazeera. “By Allah, I have seen toddlers being killed in front of their mothers.”
CBS News reports that at least 250 people have been killed in Egypt during violent protests following Morsi’s ouster last month in a military coup.
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