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U.N. rights commissioner praises Egypt protesters

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Pillay: There needs to be a full investigation into the role of security forces
  • Unconfirmed reports suggest up to 300 may have been killed, Pillay says
  • CNN has not been able to independently confirm the death toll
  • Commissioner praises army's decision not to use force against peaceful protesters
  • Egypt
  • Cairo
  • North Africa
  • Hosni Mubarak
  • Mohamed ElBaradei

(CNN) -- The U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights praised protesters in Egypt Tuesday and said she was alarmed by a rise in casualties during unrest in the country.

"I urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure police and other security forces scrupulously avoid excessive use of force, and there needs to be a full investigation into the role of security forces in the violence that occurred over the past few days," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

Pillay said unconfirmed reports suggest up to 300 people may have been killed during the protests. CNN has not been able to independently confirm the death toll. On Monday, Human Rights Watch staffers reported 80 deaths from two hospitals in Cairo, 36 deaths in Alexandria and 13 fatalities in Suez.

The statement said Pillay welcomed Monday's announcement by the Egyptian army that it would not use force against peaceful protesters.

"The army's primary function is to protect the nation and its people, and as such it should remain above the political fray," she said. "In this context, I call on the air force to refrain from further low-level over-flights by jet fighters, which is an extraordinarily intimidating way to deal with civilian street protests."

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