Egypt's military-backed government Saturday pledged to protect democracy and re-establish security, as police detained more Islamists, dpa reported.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawy said his government tried to balance firmness and decisiveness in its measures, more than a week after the interim rulers declared a nationwide state of emergency.
Security has been a major issue in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that forced Hosny Mubarak out of power.
Turmoil in Egypt has deepened this month in the wake of a crackdown by security forces on two major sit-ins held in Cairo to demand the reinstatement of elected president Mohammed Morsi whom the army deposed on July 3.
The ensuing violence killed some 1,000 people nationwide, including more than 100 policemen.
Amid an ebb in the protests, the government Saturday reduced by two hours a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in 14 of Egypt's 27 governorates as part of the state of emergency.
The curfew is to begin at 9 pm (1900 GMT), rather than 7 pm, and last until 6 am (0400 GMT), said the official Middle East News Agency.
The curfew hours, however, are to remain unchanged on Fridays when Islamists usually hold anti-military protests.
The police's clampdown on pro-Morsi vigils on August 14 drew international condemnation, especially from Europe and the United States.
However, the Gulf states expressed support for the military-installed administration.
Yet, al-Beblawy said Saturday that some "foreign stances changed slowly towards Egypt but others need some time to correct their thoughts about what is happening in Egypt."
His statement came one day after US President Barack Obama ruled out cutting more than 1 billion dollars in annual military aid to Egypt over the killing of hundreds of Islamists in the crackdown.
Obama said his administration was currently "doing a full evaluation of the US-Egyptian relationship."
The US gives Egypt 1.5 billion dollars in annual military and economic aid.
Egyptian police Saturday arrested Mohammed Hamed, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau, the Islamist group's top body, according to security sources.
Hamed was detained in Cairo for allegedly inciting violence against opponents.
Seven more Brotherhood officials were arrested in the coastal city of Safaga and the Delta province of Gharbia on charges of inciting deadly violence and attacks on state institutions, reported the state news agency.
Hundreds of Morsi's backers, including top leaders in his Muslim Brotherhood group, have been rounded up since his toppling.
A Cairo court is to start Sunday the trial of Brotherhood head Mohammed Badie and two deputies on charges of instigating deadly attacks on anti-Islamist protesters.
A Brotherhood-led alliance has vowed to continue anti-military protests despite the security clampdown.
"The alliance confirms that the arrest of its leaders will not weaken it but rather increases its insistence and unity in order to reach all its goals and commitment to legitimacy, rejection of the coup and speedy trial for the killers of the revolutionaries," the alliance said in a statement.
In Sinai, security forces, meanwhile, killed four gunmen and arrested six in a crackdown in the volatile peninsula, a security official said.
Security forces besieged the gunmen who were hiding in schools in the town of Sheikh Zuwaid in northern Sinai before attacking them, the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The remote desert region has seen regular attacks by suspected Islamist militants on security forces since Mubarak was toppled. The rate of attacks has surged since the military overthrew Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president.
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