Egypt's prime minister apologizes for violence in Cairo

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 3, 2011 

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt's newly appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq apologized Thursday for the deadly violence that broke out on Wednesday in Cario's Tahrir Square and pledged that it would not happen again.

"I pledge that what happened yesterday in Tahrir Square will not be repeated," Shafiq said during a televised news conference, referring to the clashes that were widely blamed on pro-Mubarak forces who stormed the square and fought with anti-Mubaraka demonstrators into Thursday with machetes, whips, stones and wooden sticks.

Thirteen people died in overnight clashes, the health ministry said, while 1,200 were injured.

In an effort apparently to calm the demonstrators, on Thursday the country's attorney general banned former Interior Minister Habib al Adly and two other senior officials from Mubarak's government from traveling. The order also affected a prominent member of the ruling National Democratic Party. The attorney general also froze the men's assets, according to the state news agency MENA.

Al Jazeera reported that Adly is being questioned about the decision to pull police from the streets after rioting last Friday, which led to days of lawlessness and looting. He also is being questioned about Wednesday's clashed between Mubarak loyalists and pro-democracy demonstrators.

Vice President Omar Suleiman reiterated on state TV Thursday that Mubarak has no plans to run for another term, and added that Mubarak’s son Gamal, previously believed to be groomed for the job, will not run either.

Foreign and local journalists from several media outlets reported they were attacked by thugs on Thursday, some of them were heavily wounded while others had their equipment destroyed or confiscated. The Washington Post reported that its Cario bureau chief, Leila Fadel, a staff photographer, Linda Davidson, and possibly a third employee had been detained.

"They are said to be uninjured, but one report said they'd been blindfolded," The Post said in a statement. "We believe they remain in custody, and have been in discussions with the State Department and the Egyptian Embassy. We have not spoken to them and have no more information."

Members of the opposition, most notably former U.N. chief watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei and Egypt’s largest opposition bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood, have so far rejected calls by the government to hold talks, insisting that Mubarak resign first.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service