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State-backed rights group in Egypt criticizes police for sit-in breakup that killed hundreds

Egypt's government-appointed human rights council has blamed security forces for using excessive gunfire and failing to protect peaceful supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president during a crackdown on their sit-in last summer that killed hundreds.

The National Council for Human Rights, however, said gunmen inside the encampment shot at police officers, escalating the violence at the sit-in outside Rabaa al-Adawiyah mosque on Aug. 14.

The council's report, released Wednesday, is the first official investigation into the breakup of the weekslong sit-in by Mohammed Morsi supporters.

Although the report holds protest organizers responsible for allowing armed men in, it offers a rare criticism of Egyptian security agencies' excessive use of force to break up the sit-in.

The council said the violence killed 624 civilians and eight police officers.