73 killed in Egypt as protests continue


CAIRO – At least 73 people have been killed across Egypt and thousands injured in anti-government riots since Friday, according to medics. At least 62 people were killed on Friday and 11 on Saturday, and thousands injured in clashes between protesters and police, in unprecedented rallies demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
Condemning the violence, President Mubarak sacked the cabinet but made clear he intended to stay in power. The president went into crisis talks with officials, after which news broke that army career man and Mubarak confidante, General Omar Suleiman, had been sworn in as his deputy. Shortly after Suleiman was sworn in, Mubarak tapped the current aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to form a new government.
Egypt’s military chief of staff Sami Enan also arrived in Cairo from Washington. Along with the demonstrations, looting broke out in the capital after the widely hated police appeared to have faded from the scene, prompting the army to call on citizens to defend themselves. Tens of thousands of angry citizens streamed into central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, chanting, “Mubarak out!” as troops looked on.
The army announced that a night-time curfew would be enforced and extended in key cities. However, as the new 4pm to 8am curfew went into effect on Saturday, tens of thousands in Cairo paid no heed. Later, the army stood back as protesters fought running battles with police in front of the interior ministry.
Leading Egyptian activist Mohamed ElBaradei said Mubarak should step down and set a framework for transition of power as the only way to end unrest that has rocked Egypt. US President Barack Obama called on the Egyptian authorities not to use violence against the political protests, driving home his message in a 30-minute phone call with Mubarak.
According to state news agency SPA, Saudi King Abdullah expressed support for Mubarak and slammed those “tampering” with Egypt’s security and stability.