, CAIRO August 15- Egypt was under a tense state of emergency Thursday after security forces stormed the Cairo protest camps supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in a bloody assault that sparked violence across the country which officials said claimed 278 lives.
The army backed interim government imposed a month long nationwide state of emergency, and curfews in Cairo and 13 other provinces after the violence on Wednesday.
Gory photographs and video images of the Cairo bloodbath dominated social media networks, as world powers called for restraint and condemned the show of force by security forces.
At least four churches were attacked, with Christian activists accusing Morsi loyalists of waging “a war of retaliation against Copts in Egypt”.
Hours after tear gas canisters first rained down on tents of protesters in the sprawling Rabaa al Adawiya camp in eastern Cairo, an AFP correspondent counted at least 124 bodies in makeshift morgues there.
In a field hospital, its floors slippery with blood, doctors struggled to cope with the casualties, leaving the hopeless cases, even if still alive.
The health ministry said 235 civilians were killed in the Cairo crackdown and in subsequent clashes across Egypt. The interior ministry added that 43 security personnel had lost their lives.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood spoke of 2,200 dead overall and more than 10,000 wounded.
Among those killed in Cairo was 17 year old Asmaa al Beltagui, daughter of wanted Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed al-Beltagui, a spokesman for Morsi’s movement said.
Britain’s Sky News said a veteran cameraman, Briton Mick Deane, was shot and killed while covering the assaults.
The violence prompted vice president and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei to resign, saying his conscience was troubled over the loss of life, “particularly as I believe it could have been avoided”.
“It has become too difficult to continue bearing responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear,” he said.
The state of emergency went into effect at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Wednesday, with daily overnight curfews from 7:00 pm to 6:00 am.