Egyptian military vehicles block a road leading to the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo as Egyptian police try to disperse supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi on August 14, 2013. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said at least 250 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in a police crackdown on two major protest camps held by supporters of Morsi. AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES / KHALED DESOUKI
CAIRO-- More than 200 people and police were killed in clashes across the country that erupted Wednesday when Egyptian security forces cleared out thousands of people at sit-ins who were demanding the return of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
The Egyptian Health Ministry says 235 civilians died and more than 1,000 were injured in the clashes after which Egypt's interim president declared a state of emergency and nighttime curfew.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said 43 policemen also died in the assault. He said Morsi supporters attacked 21 police stations and seven Coptic Christian churches across the nation, and assaulted the Finance Ministry in Cairo.
The streets were cleared of most people by nightfall after the military imposed a curfew. At the height of the assault, smoke filled the sky in Cairo from fires that were smoldering in the streets at two sit-ins. The sit-in areas were largely abandoned, heaped with charred tent poles and tarps.
A protester at the Rabaa Al-Awadiya camp said he saw snipers and police with machine guns firing at people.
"People are dying - women, children," said Hesham Al Ashry, a pro-Morsi protester who follows hard-line Islamic ideology, speaking frantically from inside the sit-in shortly after the assault began.
Vice President Mohammed El Baradei announced his resignation, saying he "cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood."
Most shops in Cairo shut their doors and the streets were almost entirely vacant of the throng of vehicles that typically clog the capital. Trains stopped operating and banks were closed as police chased protesters accused of instigating violence.
"All the people are afraid," said taxi driver Korolos Gad, whipping his car through the empty streets and pointing out the military tanks that deployed in the city. "After a while, things will be fine."
The military blocked roads leading to the smaller Nahda sit-in and cordoned off the bridge that leads to Tahrir Square. Downtown, near another entrance to the square, tanks lined a small side street in front of the Egyptian Museum.
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