An Egyptian police car set ablaze (file)
An Egyptian police car set ablaze (file) AFP photo

The United States on Thursday once again called on Egypt's interim authorities to lift a state of emergency which has been in force since August. The call came after Cairo announced it would extend the state of emergency for two months.

"We remain opposed, as we have from the beginning, to the state of emergency. And we urge the interim government to end it immediately," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, according to the AFP news agency.

She pressed Cairo "to create an atmosphere where Egyptians on all sides can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and expression."

"The interim government and military must ensure due process and that any citizens arrested by police or military are referred only to civilian courts," she said.

Egyptian authorities said Thursday they had extended the state of emergency that has been in force since mid-August, at a time when deadly unrest swept Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The state of emergency was declared on August 14, the day the army -- which had installed an interim government -- dispersed two Islamist protest camps, killing hundreds of protesters.

In the days following, at least 1,000 people were killed, most of them Morsi supporters.

Egypt's authorities have also rounded up dozens of senior leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, including the movement’s Supreme Guide, leaving the group unable to rally huge crowds to protest for Morsi's reinstatement.

The U.S. has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, though Secretary of State John Kerry condemned last month's crackdown as "deplorable" and has called for a return to democracy.

Washington has also cancelled military exercises with Cairo and delayed the delivery of combat aircraft. Under U.S. law, a country in which a military coup has taken place cannot receive military aid from the U.S.