CAIRO - Fresh violence hit Egypt Thursday, with Islamists going on the counterattack a day after a crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi sparked clashes that killed 578 and drew international censure.
The country awakened to an unusual calm after an overnight curfew imposed by the army-backed government, but Morsi supporters vowed to rally again to demand his reinstatement and violence erupted as the day progressed. Islamists attacked police facilities in the Sinai and the central city of Assiut, killing four soldiers, and also torched the headquarters of the provincial government in Giza, near the capital.
In Alexandria, hundreds of Morsi supporters cut the road on the corniche, chanting for their deposed president, state media reported.
In Beni Sueif province, they took to the streets to denounce the police and army crackdown Wednesday on two protest camps in Cairo that sparked nationwide clashes in which at least 578 people died.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, said a march was planned later Thursday from the Al-Iman Mosque in the capital "to protest the death of their relatives". And spokesman Gehad al-Haddad said demonstrations would continue.
In Cairo, trucks cleared debris from the charred sites there and at the Nahda Square protest camp, both occupied for weeks by Morsi loyalists after he was ousted by the military on July 3.
As the death toll from the carnage soared, condemnation of the assaults poured in, with France warning of the threat of "civil war" and Turkey demanding UN action.
The United States led a global outcry against the "deplorable" violence, while Paris, London, Berlin and Rome summoned Egypt's ambassadors to voice their strong concern.
The White House said Washington ‘strongly condemns’ the violence against the protesters and opposed the imposition of a state of emergency.
President Barack Obama said Thursday the United States had canceled military exercises with Egypt to protest the killing of hundreds of protesters.
Obama warned that Egypt had entered a ‘more dangerous path’ but stopped short of suspending $1.3 billion in annual military aid. He urged Egypt's army-installed authorities to lift a state of emergency and allow peaceful protests.
"While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back," Obama told reporters at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard. Obama said the United States informed Egypt it was suspending the Bright Star exercises, which has been scheduled every two years since 1981. French President Francois Hollande said "everything must be done to avoid a civil war," adding that France "is committed to finding a political solution and calls for elections to be held as soon as possible, in line with the commitments made by Egypt's transitional authorities."
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Morsi supporter, called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting over Egypt's "massacre." Only the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain voiced support for Egypt's military leaders, saying it was the state's duty to restore order.
Judicial authorities in Egypt extended deposed President Mohamed Morsi's detention period for 30 days, the state news agency said on Thursday.
The United States warned its citizens on Thursday not to travel to Egypt and called on those already there to leave.
The State Department travel warning was issued one day after a brutal crackdown on street protests in Cairo ordered by Egypt's military-backed government left more than 500 people dead.
Meanwhile, a late night alert said that UN Security Council was to hold Egypt consultations later Thursday.