Egyptian protesters on mortcycle 311.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Egyptian security officials said Sunday that thousands of inmates have escaped prisons across Egypt, including one that housed Muslim terrorists northwest of Cairo.
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The developments add to the chaos engulfing Egypt as anti-government protests continue. The officials said the prisoners escaped overnight from at least four jails after starting fires and clashing with guards.
They said that several inmates were killed and wounded during the escape, but gave no specific figures. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to share the information with the media.
Residents have formed neighborhood protection groups, armed with firearms, sticks and clubs to ward off looting gangs roaming Cairo and other cities.
Egyptian security forces were on high alert
Sunday after Cairo was engulfed in chaos overnight Saturday. There was
rampant looting, and lawlessness spread fast.
Residents of affluent neighborhoods were boarding up their homes against
gangs of thugs roaming the streets with knives and sticks, and gunfire
was heard in some neighborhoods.
The death toll from five days of
protests rose sharply since Friday to around 70 with over 2,000 people reportedly injured.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph
reported Saturday that
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has fled Cairo and was hiding in his
Sharm e-Sheikh winter home.
to the report, workers in the resort said they saw Mubarak's entourage
arrive on Wednesday, however no officials could confirm the report.
on Sunday, a Gaza Palestinian border official said Egypt has closed its
border with the Hamas-ruled territory amid the raging turmoil in
Ghazi Hamad said he expected the closure
to last several days.
border terminal at Rafah had been rescheduled to open Sunday after a
routine, two-day weekend closure. About 400 to 600 Palestinians cross
through the terminal daily for medical treatment, study and family
Gaza reports also said three Palestinians
imprisoned in Egypt had escaped during the upheaval and had returned to
the coastal territory through smuggling tunnels.
said group leaders have postponed a trip through Egypt to Syria, where
they were to discuss a new proposal to free a long-held Israeli soldier.
Lidman contributed to this report