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Pillay: Egypt increasingly 'polarized'

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Pillay: Egypt increasingly 'polarized'
Tents burn after Egyptian riot police dispersed protest camps of supporters of Egypt's ousted President Morsi in Cairo, on August 14, 2013. Security forces launched a crackdown on the protest camps that quickly turned into a bloodbath with dozens dead. A state of emergency has been declared. UPI/Karem Ahmed | License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- All parties to the deadly political confrontation in Egypt need to exercise restraint given the massive amount of bloodshed, the U.N. human rights chief said.

Egyptian government officials put the death toll at more than 500 people from Wednesday's violence. The Muslim Brotherhood, the movement behind ousted President Mohamed Morsi, said the number of dead is closer to 2,000.

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U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said protesters were suspected of playing a role in some of the bloodshed.

"Wednesday's tragic events highlight the degree to which Egypt is becoming dangerously polarized," she said in a statement Thursday.

The military ousted Morsi in early July. Interim leaders and Brotherhood supporters have been unable to find a peaceful resolution to the political crisis, which Morsi's supporters characterize as a coup.

The International Federation for Human Rights said Thursday it was worried the political confrontation was a prelude to civil war.

"Violence is now spreading all over the country and churches are being set on fire in different regions, tremendously increasing the risk for Egypt to slip into more sectarian violence and potentially into civil strife," it said.

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The U.S. government said Wednesday it condemned a decision by the interim government to declare a month-long state of emergency, adding the "world is watching."

The Muslim Brotherhood said Morsi's ouster violated the spirit of the 2011 revolution.

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