Protestors in Cairo, Saturday
Photo: Reuters
Ruling party's building on fire
Photo: Reuters
More than 100 killed so far
Photo: AFP

Egypt army boosts deployment after riots

Military helicopters hover over Cairo, tanks and armored vehicles stationed on capital's streets in attempt to maintain calm following bloody weekend. Banks, schools and tourist sites remain closed

The Egyptian army boosted its deployment across the country on Sunday morning in a bid to maintain a state of calm following a bloody weekend and government changes announced by President Hosni Mubarak. The banks, stock exchange and schools remained closed.


The al-Jazeera network reported that military helicopters were hovering over Cairo. Tanks and armored vehicles were stationed on the capital's streets, mainly outside government buildings and large tourist sites.


Soldiers stationed outside the government building and the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, part of which was looted over the weekend, avoided clashing with the protestors and did not use any force against those who defied Saturday's curfew.


The writing "Mubarak, take your son and get out of here" was spray-painted on one of the tanks.


More than 100 people were killed in anti-government protests in Egypt in the past five days. Would-be looters broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers, Egypt's antiquities chief said Saturday.


Zahi Hawass said the vandals did not manage to steal any of the museum's antiquities, and that the prized collection was now safe and under military guard.


State TV reported that soldiers seized government posts in Alexandria as well. As number of injured rises, hospitals are working around the clock to handle the burden. According to al-Jazeera, doctors in Cairo hospitals have called on citizens to donate blood due to the growing need for blood units to treat the injured.  


The al-Arabiya network reported that the army conducted a wave of arrests against "rioters" in several areas in Cairo. Money and hashish were seen alongside the detainees.


The Egyptian regime is seeking to demonstrate its determination to restore order, following the army's declaration that it would use a firm hand against rioters. A special call center set up by the army for reports on attacks and looting could not handle all the calls.


Pyramids, Taba casino closed

The army has closed the pyramid site and the Egyptian security forces have evacuated tourists from the Taba area. The casinos were closed by the army, and Israelis vacationing in the Sinai Peninsula were asked to leave their hotels on Saturday night and return to Israel immediately.


Despite the shaky situation, non-Israeli tourists were seen crossing the border towards Sinai after touring Israel.


Security sources told the al-Arabiya network that thousands of prisoners had escaped from the Wadi el-Natrun Prison, north of Cairo, where radical Islamic activists are held. Some of the inmates managed to escape to Gaza. Palestinian sources said several prisoners had already reached their homes in the Strip.


The protest in Egypt continued over the weekend alongside political changes. President Mubarak appointed Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman as his deputy, marking the first time the Egyptian leader ever made such appointment.


Mubarak also appointed a new prime minister - former Egyptian Air Force Chief Ahmed Shafiq, who served as civil aviation minister in the government. The appointment was considered a surprise, as the minister of international trade was expected to form the new Egyptian government.


Al-Jazeera said Saturday that Mubarak's wife and two sons arrived in London with their families, but this report was denied by Cairo. Mubarak's son, Gamal, resigned from all his posts in Egypt's ruling party.


Cairo officials expect the riots to continue. Mohammed M. Abou El-Enein, chairman of the Industry and Energy Committee at the Egyptian People's Assembly, said that "the Egyptian security position will change completely within hours."


He told al-Arabiya that "the army will boost its deployment, the security forces will enter vital areas, and the army will deploy in all parts of Egypt alongside the police forces."


As for the political aspect, the parliament member said "a significant change is expected in the government. This is a vital demand and it will be fulfilled."


Elior Levy, Ahuva Mamos and AP contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 01.30.11, 09:51
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