Egypt

Violence escalates in Egypt as protesters torch ruling party HQ

AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED

Egyptian protesters have set fire to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party in Cairo as demonstrators defied a state-imposed curfew and call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

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Dozens of people have been wounded in street battles between police and demonstrators as thousands to took to the streets to call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

Mubarak called out the army to secure the streets of Egyptian cities later in the day as protesters defied a state-imposed curfew in three major cities.

Protesters welcomed the first tanks that were deployed with cheers, RFI correspondent Alexandre Buccianti reports.

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“There is a feeling that the army is one of the last few pure things in Egypt because it does not intervene in everyday life and does not have a reputation for being corruption,” Buccianti says.

“In the past when the army was called to the streets, the situation calmed down quite rapidly. When the army was deployed during the bread riots in 1985 and in 1977, it only took them 48 hours to calm things down.”

In Cairo, Suez and Alexandria, security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators who called for Mubarak to stand down in chaotic rallies after Friday prayers.

In the capital, protesters clashed with police positioned at major intersections and roads, while demonstrators broke through several police barriers on the central 6 October bridge.

The White House said on Friday it was "very concerned" about events in Egypt and warned that the government should respect the rights of its people and restore social networking and Internet services.

The authorities have cut Internet and mobile networks which were instrumental in organising the protests.
 

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