A besieged mosque in central Cairo was the site of a tense standoff on Saturday between Egyptian security forces surrounding it and hundreds of backers of toppled president Mohammed Morsi trapped inside.

Live television footage showed riot police standing outside the al-Fateh mosque in Ramses Square.

Those inside the mosque were afraid of being detained if they left, a man inside the mosque told Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera.

“The hope is that the Egyptian people will take to the streets in order to force an end to this siege,” he said. “The besieged people include women and children, some of them need medical assistance.” The state Middle East News Agency reported that the people inside the mosque had opened fire extinguishers and water cannon at the police, who did not respond.

An estimated 700 Morsi supporters took refuge in the mosque following clashes with security forces in the area.

More than 50 people were killed on Friday in violence across Egypt, according to security sources.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood said at least 200 people were killed in the unrest, the latest since Morsi’s ouster on July 3.

Police said they had arrested 1,004 Muslim Brotherhood followers suspected of involvement in Friday’s violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies vowed to hold a “Week of Departure” protests through next week against the military-backed government, raising fears of further bloodshed.

Some 630 people were killed in a security crackdown on two major pro-Morsi vigils in Cairo and the ensuing violence in the country on Wednesday.

Under emergency rules declared by the government earlier in the week, police are allowed to use firearms in self-defence and against demonstrators who attack state buildings.

The army’s overthrow of Morsi, after protests by millions demanding he step down, has deeply divided Egypt, which is the Arab world’s most-populous country.

The clampdown on pro-Morsi protesters has drawn international condemnation, mainly from Europe and the United States. However, the Gulf countries have expressed support for Egypt’s interim rulers.

(This article was published on August 17, 2013)
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