Violence erupts in Egypt as military cracks down on Morsi backers

Fresh violence erupted in Cairo on Wednesday as the Egyptian military moved to clear supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi from two encampments, killing at least 30 people.

Reuters reported that the military fired on crowds of women and children after dropping tear gas canisters into the crowds and followed with bulldozers to raze the camps.

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The army released a statement saying the number of casualties was low compared to the thousands that had occupied the public space, and said it showed the “utmost degree of self-restraint” considering “the volume of weapons and violence directed against the security forces.”

Thousands of supporters of Morsi’s elected Muslim Brotherhood government have staged sit-ins throughout Cairo since the army overthrew him last month. At least 300 people have died in violent clashes between the military and Morsi supporters since his ouster.

The violence also comes days after Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) traveled to Egypt, urging the military leaders to hold new elections and quickly shift to civilian rule. 

McCain said on Sunday that Congress should consider cutting aid to Egypt if the military cracked down on protesters using violence.

“If they go ahead and crack down in a violent way, I’m afraid the Congress of the United States would have to consider carefully the elimination of aid,” McCain told “Fox News Sunday.”

Some members of Congress, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have pushed to end U.S. aid to Egypt following Morsi’s ouster, with a growing number of lawmakers pressing the Obama administration to label the military move a “coup,” 

The White House has declined to use that term, however, because it would trigger laws blocking aid to the world’s most populous Arab nation, threatening U.S. leverage.

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