Egyptian army hits the streets
CAIRO – Egypt’s military deployed on the streets of Cairo to enforce a nighttime curfew after the sun set today on a day of rioting and violent chaos that was a major escalation in the challenge to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
In the strongest sign yet that the violent suppression of the largest anti-government protests in decades is costing Egypt the support of its key ally in Washington, the U.S. demanded an end to the crackdown and an administration official said America will review its stand on providing aid to Egypt based on unfolding events.
One protester was killed in demonstrations that stretched across nearly half the provinces in Egypt, bringing the death toll for four days of protests to eight.
Thousands in the capital Cairo defied the curfew and tried to storm two major government buildings — the state TV and the Foreign Ministry. The army escorted TV employees out of the building. Others were praying on the streets after nightfall to show defiance.
Flames rose up across a number of cities from burning tires and police cars. Even the ruling party headquarters in Cairo was ablaze in the outpouring of rage, bitterness and utter frustration with a regime seen as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of grinding poverty that afflicts nearly half of the 80 million Egyptians. Hundreds were looting television sets and electric fans from the burning complex of buildings used by the ruling party.
A bank was also looted and Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir suspended flights to Cairo for 12 hours.
Internet and cell phone services, at least in Cairo, appeared to be largely cut off since overnight in the most extreme measure so far to try to hamper protesters form organizing. However, that did not prevent tens of thousands from flooding the streets, emboldened by the recent uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation.
“I can’t believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this,” said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. “I’ve been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We’re going to make sure of it.”
Even Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the country’s leading pro-democracy advocates, was under house arrest after joining the protests. (AP)