CAIRO — Cairo residents boarded up homes and set up neighborhood watches armed with guns, clubs and knives Saturday as looting engulfed the capital, despite the deployment of army troops to restore order.
Residents reported gangs of youths, some on motorbikes, roaming the streets, looting supermarkets, shopping malls and shops. Some of the gangs made it to affluent residential areas in the suburbs, breaking into luxury homes and apartments. The crack of gunfire could be heard in the city center as well as outlying districts.
The situation had spiraled far enough out of control by dusk Saturday that the army was deploying reinforcements across the city to restore order and prevent looting, state TV said.
The looting, which has spread despite a 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew, has prompted residents in some neighborhoods, including the upscale Zamalek district in central Cairo, to set up vigilante groups to protect private property. Outside some apartment blocks, guards armed with machine guns had taken up posts.