Egypt crackdown sparks global outrage

Egypt's bloody crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi triggered widespread condemnation on Wednesday as the international community reacted with alarm to the deepening crisis.

Europe's leading powers along with Iran, Qatar and Turkey strongly denounced the use of force by the military-backed interim government to clear two protest camps in Cairo.

The action has resulted in more than 120 deaths, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

"I am deeply concerned at the escalating violence and unrest in Egypt," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "I condemn the use of force in clearing protests and call on the security forces to act with restraint."

Qatar, a main backer of the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood, issued a similar message.

"Qatar strongly denounces the means by which peaceful protesters in Rabaa al-Adawiya camp and Al-Nahda square have been dealt with and which led to the killing of several unarmed innocent people among them," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement published on the official QNA agency.

Turkey -- which had developed strong ties with Morsi's government -- urged the international community to act immediately over what it said was an "unacceptable" response to the protests.

"The international community, particularly the UN Security Council and Arab League, must act immediately to stop this massacre," the prime minister's office said in a statement.

Iran also termed the crackdown a "massacre".

"Iran is following the bitter events in Egypt closely, disapproves of the violent actions, condemns the massacre of the population and warns of the serious consequences," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

France and Germany refrained from apportioning blame for the crisis, calling for calm from both sides.

"It is essential that this violence cease and that a sense of calm prevails," a French foreign ministry statement said. "France calls on all parties to show the greatest restraint and warns against the disproportionate use of force.

"Emerging from this crisis can only be achieved through a political solution, which involves everyone promoting dialogue and the search for a compromise.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "We call on all political forces to return immediately to negotiations and avert an escalation of violence.

"All further bloodshed must be prevented."

The European Union also appealed for restraint, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's spokesman saying: "Confrontation and violence are not the way forward."

There was no immediate reaction from the United States to Wednesday's bloodshed in the Arab world's most populous country.

Washington has given the interim regime in Egypt qualified backing, refusing to declare July's ouster of Morsi a coup while calling for a swift return to civilian rule.

A State Department spokesman on Tuesday urged the Egyptian authorities to allow Morsi supporters to protest freely but stopped short of outright condemnation of the crackdown.