Police heavily deployed in Cairo following protests

Egyptian Interior Ministry warns zero-tolerance for any gatherings, protests; up to 860 detained; EU calls on Cairo to "listen to protests."

By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST.COM STAFF
January 26, 2011 14:44
3 minute read.
Egyptian riot police chasing protesters

Egyptian riot police in Cairo 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

 
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CAIRO — Egyptian activists on Wednesday used social networking sites to call for a fresh wave of demonstrations, a day after they staged the biggest protests in years in Egypt to demand the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.

However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry warned that police would not tolerate any gatherings, marches or protests, suggesting that security forces would immediately crackdown at the first sign of protesters gathering.

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Across the Egyptian capital on Wednesday, thousands of riot police were deployed in anticipation of fresh anti-government, Tunisia-inspired protests. A day earlier, tens of thousands demonstrated in Cairo and several other Egyptian cities to call for Mubarak's ouster and a solution to rampant poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.

In Europe Wednesday, the office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called on "Egyptian authorities to respect and to protect the right of Egyptian citizens to manifest their political aspirations."

Her spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said Egyptian authorities should "take note of their legitimate wish for political action to deal with the problems that are affecting their daily lives."

Two protesters and a policeman were killed in Tuesday's protests and some 250 were wounded, including 85 policemen, when riot police used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters shortly after midnight. Medical officials said a third protester died Wednesday from injuries sustained a day earlier.



Activists organized Tuesday's protests, dubbed "day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment," on the social networking site Facebook, and demonstrators spread word of where to gather on Twitter.

"All of Egypt must move, at one time," the Facebook group organizing the demonstrations said in a posting Wednesday in which it listed a number of spots in Cairo and around the country where demonstrators should gather.

Thousands of policemen in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles took up posts on bridges across the Nile, at major intersections and squares as well as outside key installations like the state TV building and the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party in central Cairo.

The capital remained quiet in the early afternoon with no sign of fresh protests.

Tuesday's unrest led the Egyptian stock market to tumble by more than 4 percent on Wednesday, the first concrete sign that the demonstrations have impacted the country's economy. The benchmark EGX30 index was down 4.63 percent, to 6,411.94 points by 10:45 a.m. local time Tuesday.

Security officials, meanwhile, said up to 860 protesters were detained Wednesday, 600 in Cairo and the rest in port-city Alexandria and other cities, during clashes between police and protesters in Cairo and elsewhere in this Arab state of some 80 million people.

More were likely to be detained as authorities review police video tapes of the protests, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The protests were Egypt's biggest in years and are likely to fuel dissent in a presidential election year. Mubarak, 82, has yet to say whether he plans to run for another six-year term in office. He is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, a prospect that is opposed by many Egyptians.

"Down with Hosni Mubarak, down with the tyrant," chanted the crowds in Cairo on Tuesday. "We don't want you!" they screamed. One sign carried by protesters on Tuesday said: "Gamal, take your dad and go."

Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, fled to Britain with his family on Wednesday, the US-based Arabic website Akhbar al-Arab reported. The Jerusalem Post could not verify the report.

The private jet carrying Gamal and his wife and daughter left for London Tuesday from an airport in the west of Cairo, according to unverified report.

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