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In a brief televised statement, the Cabinet lauded efforts by security forces to disperse the sit-ins, emphasizing that they exercised self-restraint, as it urged the Muslim Brotherhood not to incite violence which harms national security.

The government holds the Muslim Brotherhood leaders responsible for the bloodshed, the statement said. 

The security forces’ self-restraint, the statement said, is reflected in the low number of causalities compared to the number of protesters and the weapons they possess.

According to the Health Ministry, at least 15 people have been killed and 100 injured as security forces moved to disperse two sit-ins by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. Eyewitnesses and Brotherhood sources have put the death toll at higher, ranging from 50 to more than 100.

Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb says the religious institution was not aware of any plans to disperse the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins, where clashes rage between protesters and security forces.

In a recorded message, al-Tayeb said al-Azhar will not be dragged into the political struggle.

The cabinet statement said the government will combat any attempts to attack public property and police station, warning that it will use any means necessary.

The government maintained that it guarantees the right to peaceful protest, so long as it is done within the framework of the law.

It will also move forward with the roadmap, the statement said, without excluding any factions from the political process.

In its statement, the government mourned the deaths on either side, urging protesters to “listen to reason,” and abandon violence to prevent bloodshed.

Al-Tayeb maintained that violence cannot be an alternative to political solutions, reiterating its calls responding to national reconciliation efforts.

The Azhar Sheikh called on all sides to exercise self-restraint.