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Egypt rejects HRW call for UN probe into protest deaths

Cairo – Egypt hit back on Saturday at a call by Human Rights Watch for an international investigation into the killing of hundreds of protesters in Cairo by security forces two years ago.

The foreign ministry criticised the New York-based watchdog’s report on the deaths of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square as “politicised and lacking objectivity”.

Egypt’s government has defended the dispersal as necessary to tackle armed “terrorists”, and it brushed aside HRW’s appeal for the UN Human Rights Council to set up an international commission of inquiry.

“The call for an international investigation into the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in is even more ludicrous because it is issued by an organisation that has never expressed any interest in the soldiers, police and civilian victims of terrorism in Egypt,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“The organisation insists on ignoring the terrorist nature of the movement that it defends,” it added, referring to Morsi’s blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

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At least 600 people were killed during the operation in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square on August 14 2013, according to official figures. HRW says at least 800 died.

No policemen have faced trial over the deaths.

About 10 police were killed during the dispersal, after coming under fire from gunmen in the sprawling camp.

Rights groups have accused police of using disproportionate force, killing many unarmed protesters in what HRW said “probably amounted to crimes against humanity”.

Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was overthrown and detained by the military after mass protests against his year in office. He has since been sentenced to death.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief, has pledged to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood.

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