Egypt

Mubarak claims to fear chaos in Egypt if he quits

Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

President Hosni Mubarak says he wants to leave office but fears Egypt will sink into chaos, US news channel ABC says. In central Cairo, calm has returned to Tahrir square where protesters prepare for a day of rallies amid fears of clashes with pro-Mubarak supporters.

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In an interview with ABC, the embattled Egyptian president said he was "fed-up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot... for fear that the country would sink into chaos."

Mubarak told US President Barack Obama that he didn’t understand Egyptians and “what would happen” if he stepped down now. Mubarak has come under increasing pressure from the US and from the EU after a week-long protest against his regime.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

In the interview, Mubarak blamed the banned Muslim Brotherhood for the violence.

On Thursday, anti-Mubarak protesters and pro-Mubarak supporters stood off in central Cairo following two days of clashes which left at least seven dead.

Egyptian police have also arrested seven youth leaders of the protests in Tahrir Square shortly after they visited leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei, their families said.

Earlier, RFI's Michel Arsenault said the army appeared to be intervening, securing some streets and bridges.

“It looks like sodiers are intervening on one side of Tahrir square," said Arsenault, "there's a lot of gunshot, and soldiers bearing assault rifles."

"I see them stopping youths who were throwing stones and I suspect they belong to the pro-Mubarak side."The army also appeared to be clearing the two bridges that had been

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RFI's Michel Arsenault in Cairo

taken over by the anti-Mubarak camp.

At a nearby hospital, Dr. Khamal, who worked overnight on Thursday, told RFI the hospital had received several hundred wounded people, some of them had been shot.

“We have received around 900 injured,” said Dr. Khamal, “they suffer from cuts and bullet wounds. They were shot by men from the government standing on buildings.”

World leaders have also condemned a flurry of attacks on journalists covering the protests, many of whom have been beaten up, detained or have gone missing. On Thursday, The United States condemned a "concerted campaign" of intimidation against international journalists.

French broadcasters TF1 and France 24, RFI’s sister company, said half a dozen of their journalists had been detained. TF1 described armed men in civilian men taking three of its reporters to an unknown destination, while France 24 said it had no news of three of its journalits held since Wednesday by "military intelligence services".
 

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