Egypt's Morsi declares emergency, curfew in restive cities

Egypt's Morsi declares emergency, curfew in restive cities

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Sunday declared a state of emergency and a nightime curfew for one month in three restive cities after days of deadly violence, dpa reported.

Morsi, facing his worst crisis since taking office in June, said the measures would take effect Sunday night in the cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.

The three coastal cities have been the scene of clashes for days between police and protesters, leaving dozens dead.

"Let everyone know that the state institutions are capable of protecting the nation, installations and people," said Morsi in an address shown on state television.

He added that he had instructed the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, to deal "strongly and firmly" with what he called "deviation from law."

Protesters, believed to be opponents of Morsi, have attacked government buildings and offices belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails in the past three days across the nation.

Seven people were killed Sunday in Port Said, bringing to 38 the number of deaths in the city in two days, according to government figures.

The latest deaths occurred in clashes between police and angry mourners during a mass funeral for dozens of people killed in rioting the day before, reported local media.

Carrying the coffins of people killed in fighting with police on Saturday, the mourners chanted: "The people want to bring down the regime," said witnesses.

On Saturday, 31 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in Port Said in rioting sparked by the sentencing of 21 local people to death over involvement in deadly football riot.

In Sunday's address Morsi offered condolences to families of the dead, but said that respect for court rulings was obligatory.

Nine people were killed in Suez and one more civilian in Ismailia in violence Friday, according to health authorities.

Morsi renewed his call for the opposition to get engaged in "national dialogue," and said he would Monday meet with what he called "leaders and symbols of political powers" to discuss the situation in the country.

"There is no alternative to dialogue ... as it is the only way to create the new, free Egypt."

The mostly secular opposition had previously rejected the Islamist president's offer for dialogue, saying it lacked seriousness and a clear agenda.

Critics of Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, accuse him of ruling at the command of the Muslim Brotherhood and of failing to revitalize an ailing economy.

His Islamist allies have, meanwhile, accused the opposition of stoking the unrest.

Clashes continued in Cairo for the fourth straight day between security forces and anti-government protesters near Tahrir Square - the epicentre of a 2011 revolt that toppled Hosny Mubarak.

The main venue of violence was the Qasr al-Nil Bridge near the premises of the Arab League.

The area was shrouded in tear gas fired by security forces, as protesters blocked nearby roads.

The unrest prompted embassies near Tahrir to close their public services.

The violent protests began on Friday as Egyptians marked the second anniversary of the revolt against Mubarak.

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