30 Jan 2011

Curfew defied in Cairo

1:35 pm on 30 January 2011

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have defied a curfew in Egypt for a second day and are remaining on the streets seeking to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

In contrast to the situation on Friday, the protests were mainly peaceful. However, looting has been reported.

The army has replaced riot police in Cairo and other cities and is allowing the demonstrations to continue. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers are on the streets.

But there was a confrontation outside the Interior Ministry, the headquarters of the riot police, where crowds attempted to storm the building.

Security sources said clashes had broken out between the police and prisoners trying to escape from a Cairo prison.

None of the prisoners managed to escape, but eight were killed and more than 120 were wounded.

Protesters are reported to have set fire to the Tax Authority headquarters, an office tower near the Interior Ministry and other government buildings in central Cairo.

Vice President & PM appointed

Earlier, the state news agency announced the appointment of a vice president.

Omar Suleiman is the head of Egypt's intelligence service. State television showed him being sworn in on Saturday.

Mr Suleiman, 74, has been the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993.

AFP news agency reports it is the first time the first time such a post has been created under Mr Mubarak, who has ruled for 30 years.

Aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq, 69, has also been appointed as prime minister.

He was commander of the Egyptian air force between 1996 - 2002, when he became minister of civil aviation.

Cairo, Alexandria and Suez are under an extended curfew from 4pm - 8am.

The army has warned that anyone who breaks the curfew will be in danger.

The BBC reports there have been clashes in Cairo, Alexandria and Ismailiya.

Death toll

More than 100 people are reported to have been killed in the protests so far.

The unrest began last Tuesday and the Muslim Brotherhood announced on Thursday that it would support the protests on Friday.

Cairo stock exchange will be closed on Sunday, which is a normally full trading day.

After the protests on Friday, President Mubarak appeared on state TV to announce he was sacking his government. The cabinet has now formally resigned.

Mobile phone services have been restored in Cairo, but the BBC reports the internet remains down.

Looting reported

Looters have hit a number of upper-class neighbourhoods in Cairo. There are reports of widespread looting of supermarket chains in in Alexandria.

Some residents have formed committees to protect their homes and buildings.

Banks, junctions and important buildings previously guarded by the police and state security have been abandoned and civilians have stepped in to fill the void.

State television said army reinforcements were being sent to sites across Egypt to protect public and private property.

State television reported at least 60 rape cases during the unrest. It also reported that a cancer hospital for children had been stormed.

On Friday, looters broke into the Egyptian Museum on Friday night and destroyed two mummies.

Arabiya television showed soldiers patrolling the museum which houses most of the King Tutankhamen collection. Display cases had been shattered and broken statues and porcelain figures lay on the floor.

A number of display cases appeared to have been emptied of some of their contents.

The unrest follows an uprising in Tunisia two weeks ago which toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

Mr Mubarak, 82, has been in office since 1981. The Egyptian government tolerates little dissent and demonstrations are outlawed.