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U.N. chief Ban condemns Egypt violence, urges respect for rights

Fireworks are set off near police and anti-Mursi protesters by supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clashes in Nasr
Fireworks are set off near police and anti-Mursi protesters by supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clashes in Nasr

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned on Saturday the violence following protests in Egypt, calling on security forces to respect the right to free speech and assembly and urging protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

"The Secretary-General once again calls on the interim authorities to assume full responsibility for the peaceful management of the demonstrations and ensure the protection of all Egyptians," Ban's press office said in a statement.

Egyptian security forces shot dead dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Saturday, witnesses said, days after the army chief called for a popular mandate to wipe out "violence and terrorism."

More than 200 people have been killed in violence since the army toppled Mursi on July 3, following huge protests against his year in power. The army denies accusations it staged a coup, saying it intervened to prevent national chaos.

Mursi has been held in an undisclosed location since his ouster and faces a raft of charges, including murder. Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said Mursi was likely to be transferred to the same Cairo prison where former leader Hosni Mubarak is now held.

"The Secretary-General reiterates that Mr. Mohammed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood leaders currently in detention should immediately be released or have their cases reviewed in full transparency," Ban's press office said.

Ban appealed "to all the people of Egypt to address their differences through dialogue and again renews his calls to all parties to engage in an inclusive and meaningful reconciliation process."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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