Egypt's army-backed interim prime minister defended the government's decision on Wednesday to order the crushing of camps of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi, saying the authorities had no choice but to act.
"We found that matters had reached a point that no self respecting state could accept," Hazem el-Beblawi said, citing what he describes as "the spread of anarchy and attacks on hospitals and police stations".
Security forces shot dead scores of people in their assault on the camps, defying international pleas to show restraint after a six-week stand-off with Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned saying peaceful means could still have been found to end the confrontation, but other members of the government have rallied behind the decision to use force.
In a televised statement Beblawi said the decision to break up the protests "was not easy" and came only after the government had given mediation efforts a chance.
He said a state of emergency announced earlier in the day would be for the shortest period possible, adding that the government was committed to an army-backed road map to restore democracy.
"God willing, we will continue. We will build our democratic, civilian state," he said.