'3 dead in Israel's Cairo embassy clashes'
Three people were killed in clashes overnight between police and protesters outside Israel's embassy in Cairo, and a fourth died of a heart attack, Egyptian hospital sources said today.world Updated: Sep 10, 2011 20:33 IST
Three people were killed in clashes overnight between police and protesters outside Israel's embassy in Cairo, and a fourth died of a heart attack, Egyptian hospital sources said on Saturday.
The medics said the bodies of those killed were taken to three hospital morgues in the capital, but they did provide the exact cause of death.
The health ministry had earlier reported one fatality from a heart attack.
More than 1,000 people, including some 300 policemen, were also injured in the clashes that broke out late Friday and continued overnight, medical and security sources said.
Police, meanwhile, arrested 19 people and referred them to the military prosecution which immediately began quizzing them, a security official said.
The authorities declared a state of emergency on Saturday after the violence, which prompted a mass evacuation from the Israeli embassy including the departure of Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and other staff.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the mob attack a "serious incident," while US President Barack Obama asked Egypt to protect the embassy housed in a high-rise building overlooking the Nile.
An Israeli official said the ambassador, other staff and dependants had all left Egypt but a senior diplomat remained behind.
"We left the deputy ambassador to keep up contact with the Egyptian government," the official told AFP in Jerusalem on condition of anonymity.
He said six embassy staff were plucked to safety by Egyptian commandos.
The attack on the embassy was the worst since Israel established its mission in Egypt after becoming the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979. Jordan followed suit in 1994.
The violence is also the worst episode in tense relations between Egypt and Israel since the killing of five Egyptian policemen last month on the border as Israel hunted militants after a deadly attack.
The embassy attack came as about 1,000 protesters marched to the mission from Tahrir Square where thousands had massed to press Egypt's military rulers to keep promises of reform after a January-February revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Protesters hacked away at a protection wall surrounding the high-rise building housing the embassy while staff were trapped inside.
They demolished the wall with sledgehammers, removed the Israeli flag and some entered the embassy, grabbing thousands of documents which they dumped from top floor windows to cheering crowds.
They also torched police trucks and attacked regional police headquarters in the Giza district housing the embassy.
Hundreds of soldiers backed by armoured cars rushed to the area after Obama called on Cairo to protect the embassy.