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Cairo University Gun Battle Kills at Least 18, Over 360 Wounded

The toll in pro- and anti-government gun battles at Cairo University has risen to 18 dead and 367 injured, Egyptian security sources said today.

The bloodshed began in the lead-up to televised address yesterday by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, in which the Muslim Brotherhood-linked president refused calls from both the army and millions of protesters to step down. Morsi declined to make even symbolic gestures in response to protester complaints of regime authoritarianism and economic mismanagement.

Instead Morsi emphasized his “legitimacy”, intoning that “the people empowered me, the people chose me, through a free and fair election.” He also declared that “if the price of protecting legitimacy is my blood, I’m willing to pay it.”

Four people died before Morsi’s address, and 14 after, as supporters and opponents of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood exchanged live fire in front of the campus.

A 48-hour ultimatum issued by the army on Monday is set to expire on Wednesday. It’s unclear whether an open clash between the Brotherhood and the relatively secular, more Western-oriented military is in the offing, and if so what form it would take.

The army top brass has dubbed the coming period as “The Final Hours,” and said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” if the political echelon did not resolve the crisis.

[Photo: Aswat Masriya / YouTube]