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DFA raises Alert Level 3 in Egypt, suspends deployment of workers

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday suspended the deployment of new Filipino workers to Egypt after it raised the crisis alert level in the Middle Eastern country to Level 3 due to continued civilian unrest and Islamist protests following the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi. “In view of the escalating civil unrest and insecurity as well as the declaration of a month-long State of Emergency in Egypt, Secretary Albert del Rosario has upon the recommendation of our Ambassador in Cairo, raised crisis in that country to alert level 3 this morning,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said in a text message. The new crisis alert level means Filipino workers in Egypt can volunteer to be repatriated to the Philippines with the assistance of the Philippine embassy in Cairo. There are currently around 6,000 Filipinos working or residing in the Middle Eastern country. Aside from the suspension of the deployment of new workers to Egypt, the DFA has also put on hold the return to Egypt of vacationing workers, spouses of Egyptian nationals, Islamic university students and their dependents. State of emergency Army-backed rulers in Egypt declared on Wednesday declared a month-long state of emergency after a violent protest led by Morsi’s supporters led to the death of over 149 civilians in Cairo and in several other regions in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood, Mursi’s political party, has condemned the incident as a “massacre.” Meanwhile, Security forces struggled to clamp a lid on Egypt on Thursday after hundreds of people were killed when authorities forcibly broke up camps of supporters protesting the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, in the worst nationwide bloodshed in decades, Reuters news agency said. Islamists clashed with police and troops who used bulldozers, teargas and live fire on Wednesday to clear out two Cairo sit-ins that had become a hub of Muslim Brotherhood resistance to the military after it deposed Mursi on July 3. The clashes spread quickly, and a health ministry official said about 300 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured in fighting in Cairo, Alexandria and numerous towns and cities around the mostly Muslim nation of 84 million. The crackdown defied Western appeals for restraint and a peaceful, negotiated settlement to Egypt's political stand-off, prompting international statements of dismay and condemnation. The Muslim Brotherhood said the true death toll was far higher, with a spokesman saying 2,000 people had been killed in a "massacre." It was impossible to verify the figures independently given the extent of the violence. The military-installed government declared a month-long state of emergency and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Cairo and 10 other provinces, restoring to the army powers of arrest and indefinite detention it held for decades until the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a 2011 popular uprising. The army insists it does not seek power and acted in response to mass demonstrations calling for Mursi's removal. Churches targeted Islamists staged revenge attacks on Christian targets in several areas, torching churches, homes and business after Coptic Pope Tawadros gave his blessing to the military takeover that ousted Mursi, security sources and state media said. Churches were attacked in the Nile Valley towns of Minya, Sohag and Assiut, where Christians escaped across the roof into a neighboring building after a mob surrounded and hurled bricks at their place of worship, state news agency MENA said. The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and fellow Muslim power Turkey condemned the violence and called for the lifting of the state of emergency and an inclusive political solution to Egypt's crisis. Wednesday's death toll took the number of people killed in political violence since Mursi's fall to about 600, mostly Islamist supporters of the ousted president. Violence rippled out from Cairo, with Mursi supporters and security forces clashing in the cities of Alexandria, Minya, Assiut, Fayoum and Suez and in Buhayra and Beni Suef provinces. - with a report from Reuters/VVP, GMA News