Egypt's health ministry says 149 people were killed in violence around the country Wednesday, after security forces moved in with armored vehicles and bulldozers to clear Cairo protests by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Protesters say the death toll is much higher.
Egypt's interim presidency announced a one-month state of emergency had begun and ordered the armed forces to help the Interior Ministry enforce security. The government declared a nighttime curfew in Cairo and several provinces.
Egypt's interim vice president, pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei, resigned, saying he could not bear responsibility for decisions he "does not agree with and whose consequences" he fears.
There are widely divergent estimates of the death toll from Wednesday's violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood puts the number of dead in the thousands, while the United Nations said it appears hundreds were killed or wounded in the clashes between security forces and demonstrators demanding Mr. Morsi's reinstatement. Egypt's Health Ministry said at least 149 people were killed in clashes around the country, and more than 1,400 wounded.
Witnesses and foreign journalists reported that security forces used live fire from automatic rifles in clearing the Cairo protests, while the army released photos of pro-Morsi supporters using weapons against riot police. The Interior Ministry said its forces used only tear gas and that they came under fire from the camps.
Scores of people were arrested, including Brotherhood leaders.
Clashes also broke out in Alexandria, Minya, Assiut and Suez as Islamist anger over the crackdown spread. Police stations, government buildings and Coptic Christian churches were attacked or set ablaze.
Medical sources said 15 people were killed in Ismailia in fighting, most by live ammunition.
In a televised statement, a government spokesman blamed the violence on the Muslim Brotherhood and hailed police for their "professionalism."
"The government demands the political leadership of the Brotherhood stop incitements to violence and holds these leaders fully responsible for any blood that is shed. The government also salutes the efforts of the security services for...using the utmost self-restraint and highest degree of professionalism in the operation to clear the sit-in."
The use of force by Egyptian authorities drew quick condemnation from some predominantly Muslim countries, but also from the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, all of which called for restraint.
Authorities said they quickly cleared the smaller protest encampments at Nahda Square, near Cairo University. Hours later, Egyptian state television reported that police seized full control of the larger camp near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr City that has served as the epicenter of the pro-Morsi campaign.
Egypt's railway authority said train service in and out of Cairo was suspended to keep activists from regrouping elsewhere.
An alliance of pro-Morsi groups said the 17-year-old daughter of a senior Brotherhood leader Mohammed el-Beltagy was shot dead in the larger of the two vigils stormed by police in Cairo.
Britain's Sky News said one of its veteran cameramen was shot and killed while covering the deadly violence.