CAIRO, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed on Sunday to stand firm against violence, as supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi cancelled some of their planned marches in Cairo for "security reasons."
The army chief said so in a clear statement to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been opposing the security forces that in early July ousted Morsi who was affiliated to the group. The security troops on Wednesday dispersed two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, further irritating the Islamists.
In his first public remarks since Wednesday, Sisi said "Whoever imagines violence will make the state and Egyptians kneel must reconsider his thoughts; we will never be silent in the face of the destruction of the country," pledging forceful response to further attacks on police stations, government institutions and religious houses.
Sisi said chance was given to every side to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis and that he had called on members of the ex-administration to engage in the political process under the roadmap instead of destroying the country.
In a cabinet statement on Sunday, interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said Egypt would continue to face terrorism firmly and decisively ahead of implementing the roadmap that gives priority to amending the constitution and running the parliamentary elections followed by the presidential one.
On Sunday, the Alliance for Supporting Democracy, a pro-Morsi alliance which comprises 33 Islamic movements including the Muslim Brotherhood, cancelled two press conferences set to be held outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi district and at Roksy Square in Heliopolis district of Cairo. It also cancelled several marches in the capital, citing fears of snipers reportedly deployed along march routes.
The Interior Ministry, for its part, warned against the acts of some groups who volunteered for protecting citizens but in fact misusing the chance to commit crimes. It also urged citizens to abide by the curfew hours so that the security forces could work without distraction.
Yet, violence continued during the day across the country, with the most notable incident taking place in Qalyubiya governorate, when 36 Muslim Brotherhood members died in a riot as they attempted to escape when being moved to a jail.
Quoting a security source, official news agency MENA said armed clashes broke out between the security forces and militants who intercepted and attacked police vehicles carrying Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated detainees to Abou Zaabal Prison in Qalyubiya, 60 km north of Cairo.
The clashes took place before the police vehicles entered the prison, as the detainees tried to escape with the help of the militants who took a police officer as hostage, said MENA.
The Interior Ministry said the 36 died of suffocation and stampede when security forces fired tear gas to foil their attempt to flee. However, pro-Morsi groups said they were "killed" by the security forces.
Meanwhile, a police officer and a conscript were killed and two other conscripts injured when Muslim Brotherhood members fired at a patrol which was combing Ismailia-Cairo road, MENA said.
According to the Interior Ministry, the death toll across Egypt since Wednesday has risen to 866, including 70 policemen.