Germany 'condemns in strongest terms' Egypt violence

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany on Friday "condemned in the strongest terms" the escalation of deadly violence in Egypt and urged all sides to avoid further bloodshed and return to dialogue.

The foreign ministry meanwhile widened its travel alert from Cairo and parts of the Nile River Delta to all of Egypt, including Red Sea tourist resorts, advising German citizens to stay away.

"The federal government condemns the violence, which in Cairo and other cities, according to state information, has claimed more than 600 lives, in the strongest terms," said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

On the day Islamists called for a "Friday of anger", Mr Seibert said that "we call on all sides, especially today, to act peacefully and refrain from any use of violence", as well as a return to dialogue and an all-inclusive political process.

"The political and military leadership of Egypt along with the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood now carry great responsibility," he told a press briefing.

"Further escalations could plunge Egypt into a chaos of violence and counter-violence and further escalation."

Ms Merkel and French President Francois Holllande are due to discuss the Egyptian crisis in a phone talk later on Friday, a diplomatic source said.

Mr Seibert also said that "when we hear reports of attacks on houses of worship, that also greatly worries us". His comments came after Coptic Christian churches were attacked in the mainly-Muslim country.