U.N. secretary-general condemns attacks on churches in Egypt

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attacks on hospitals, churches and public facilities in Egypt in a statement released on Saturday.

During just four days last week, there were thousands of injuries and more than 500 deaths as a result of the violence in Egypt. Ban stressed how unacceptable the violence was and appealed to authorities to contain the situation while reviving the political process.

"The secretary-general believes that preventing further loss of life should be the Egyptians' highest priority at this dangerous moment," Ban's spokesperson said. "He urges those in the street and those in authority to use maximum restraint and shift immediately to de-escalation."

According to media reports, Egyptian security forces fought with supporters of former President Mohamed Morsy in a central Cairo mosque. The mosque was occupied by scores of protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood seeking refuge from the violence.

"The secretary-general is alarmed by ongoing developments in Egypt and the widespread outbreak of violent protests and excessive use of force in handling them," Ban's spokesperson said.

Ban said Egyptians must resolve their differences peacefully to move forward quickly. Two years after toppling President Hosni Mubarak, protests were renewed in July, resulting in the killing and wounding of dozens of people. The Egyptian military deposed President Morsy, suspended the constitution and set up an interim government.

"With such sharp polarization in Egyptian society, both the authorities and the political leaders share the responsibility for ending the current violence," Ban's spokesperson said. "(Authorities and political leaders must) adopt a credible plan to contain the violence and revive the political process hijacked by violence."