Egyptian troops and protesters in Tahrir Square 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
CAIRO — At least 365 people died in the 18 days of anti-government protests that pushed out longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, the Health Ministry said Wednesday in the first official accounting of the death toll.
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Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said it was only a preliminary count of civilians killed, and did not include police or prisoners. And while Mubarak is gone, frustration with the quality of life from working conditions to environmental concerns kept demonstrators in the streets as the economy falters.
Egypt's army to protesters: Leave Tahrir or face arrest
Airport employees protested for better pay Wednesday, textile workers went on strike to demand a corruption investigation and residents of a Suez Canal city pressed for closing a chemical factory they say is dumping toxic waste into a lake.
The ruling military council issued its second statement in three days calling for an immediate halt to all labor actions. The new warning raised expectations of an outright ban on protests and strikes that could easily raise the tension level between authorities and the protest movement.
"We urge citizens and members of professional and labor unions to go on with their jobs, each in their position," a text message sent to Egyptian cell phones from the military said.
So far, the warnings have been defied by people airing grievances
everywhere over just about everything, from meager wages to police
brutality and corruption.
One of the youth groups that helped organize the uprising tweeted
Wednesday: "Strikes and protests should NOT stop." The group also
promoted a planned march this Friday to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the
democracy movement's key gathering point.
The council that took power from Mubarak as a result of the protests
that began Jan. 25 says all the strikes and unrest are hampering efforts
to salvage the economy and return the nation to normal life. Egypt's
economy has been in virtual paralysis with the labor unrest, extended
bank and stock market closures and an evaporation of tourism — a key
source of income for the country.