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Egypt's Ruling Council Calls for Crisis Talks with Political Forces

A wounded Egyptian protester

A wounded Egyptian protester

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has called for crisis talks with the country's political forces after the interim civilian cabinet submitted its resignation and three days of anti-military protests and a fierce security crackdown killed at least 24 people.

In a statement late Monday, the military council urged calm and called for a national dialogue "to look into the reasons behind the current crisis and ways to resolve it as quickly as possible."

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The statement, carried by Egypt's state news agency MENA, also voiced its "deep sorrow over the deaths during the recent painful events," and said the council ordered security forces to take all necessary measures to protect the demonstrators.

MENA said the civilian cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will continue to perform its duties until the military council decides whether to accept the resignations.

The White House said Monday it was "deeply concerned" about the violence and urged restraint by all sides. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the loss of life and called on authorities to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties for all Egyptians, including the right to peaceful protest."

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Egypt's rulers of brutality sometimes exceeding that of former President Hosni Mubarak. The group's Philip Luther said that "by using military courts to try thousands of civilians, cracking down on peaceful protests and expanding the emergency law, the military council has continued the tradition of repressive rule which the January 25 demonstrators fought so hard to get rid of."

Protests continued across the country Monday, including Cairo's central Tahrir Square, in what some are calling "Egypt's second revolution."

Clashes also erupted near Egypt's Interior Ministry. Reuters quotes an army official as saying the ministry requested protection against the protesters, who want the head of the ruling military to swiftly hand over power to a civilian government.

Some demonstrators called for a "million man" rally across Egypt Tuesday.

The military-led government held an emergency meeting Sunday and promised to begin staggered parliamentary elections as planned on November 28.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.