CAIRO — Under mounting criticism at home and abroad over clashes with troops that killed two dozen Coptic Christians on Sunday, Egypt’s
military rulers issued an extraordinary plea for sympathy on Wednesday,
urging Egyptians to understand that soldiers in riot gear and armored
trucks had been terrified of an angry crowd of demonstrators.
The military council, which has governed Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February, broke its silence after senior diplomats from the United States and the European Union had expressed growing alarm at the military’s aloof response to the bloodshed its troops inflicted on unarmed civilians. Their appeals came a day after television coverage of the victims of the battles appeared to galvanize public outrage, most notably around a young woman whose fiancé had pushed her out of the way of a military truck just before it ran him down.
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