2 killed in Egyptian clashes, ElBaradei under house arrest

By JPOST.COM STAFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 28, 2011 17:42

One woman killed in Cairo, another man shot to death in Suez in latest round of protests; ElBaradei arrested after hiding in mosque; Egyptian gov't imposes curfew, orders army reinforcement as violent clashes continue.

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Egyptian protesters run for a cover from tear gas.

Egypt riots_311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

At least two people were killed on Friday in mass Egyptian protests against the government.

One woman was killed in Cairo, and another man was shot to death in Suez.

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The Egyptian government imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 7 am on Friday, in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez after violent demonstrations there.

The decree was handed down by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who ordered the Egyptian army to give reinforcement to police to quell the protests, reported al-Jazeera.

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Also Friday, police placed Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei under house arrest.

Earlier, after joining the latest round of protests, ElBaradei and his supporters were forced to hide inside a mosque while hundreds of riot police laid siege to it, firing tear gas in the streets around so no one could leave.

One of the leaders of the opposition, Ayman Nour of the "El-Ghad" movement, also sustained a head injury from a stone, said al-Jazeera.

Friday's protests saw tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators pouring into the streets of Egypt, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas in the most violent and chaotic scenes yet in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Groups of thousands of protesters, some chanting "out, out, out," gathered at different venues across Cairo, some marching toward major squares and across scenic Nile bridges. Security officials said there were protests in at least 11 of the country's 28 provinces.

The protesters have said they are emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia, another north African Arab nation. Egypt is Washington's closest Arab ally, but Mubarak may be losing US support. The Obama administration has publicly counseled Mubarak to introduce reforms and refrain from using violence against the protesters.

US President Barack Obama said Thursday the anti-government protests filling the streets show the frustrations of Egypt's citizens.

"It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express their grievances," Obama said.

Authorities appeared to have disrupted social networking sites, used as an organizing tool by protesters, throughout the week. Those disruptions escalated overnight, when Internet and cell phone services, at least in Cairo, appeared to be largely cut off. However, the extreme measures did not prevent tens of thousands from flooding the streets.

Mubarak has not been seen publicly or heard from since the protests began Tuesday. While Mubarak may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked US memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.

Mubarak and his government have shown no hint of concessions to the protesters who want political reform and a solution to rampant poverty, unemployment and rising food prices.


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