Calgary Herald

Web access shut as deadly ‘revolution’ rages in Egypt

- YASMINE SALEH AND SHERINE EL-MADANY

Egyptian demonstrat­ors fought security forces into the early hours today in the city of Suez, and the Internet was blocked ahead of the biggest protests yet planned against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Emboldened by this month’s revolt that toppled the authoritar­ian leader of Tunisia, Egyptians have staged mass protests since Tuesday. The biggest demonstrat­ions yet are planned for this afternoon after weekly prayers.

“This is a revolution,” one 16-yearold protester said in Suez late on Thursday. “Every day we’re coming back here.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned to Egypt from Vienna on Thursday, has called for Mubarak to resign and said he would join the protests today.

Internet access was shut down across the country shortly after midnight. Cellphone text messaging services also appeared to be partially disabled, working only sporadical­ly.

Activists have relied on the Internet, especially social media services such as Twitter and Facebook, to organize.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a “tweet” message on Twitter: “We are concerned that communicat­ions services, including the Internet, social media, and even this tweet are being blocked in Egypt.”

In Suez, which has been the site of some of the most violent dem- onstration­s, police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and gasoline bombs into the early hours today. Fires burned in the street, filling the air with smoke.

The city fire station was ablaze. Waves of protesters charged toward a police station deep into the night. Demonstrat­ors dragged their wounded comrades into alleys.

Security forces shot dead a protester in the north of the Sinai region on Thursday, bringing the death toll to five.

Video images obtained by Reuters showed the man among a small group of protesters some distance from the security forces when he suddenly collapsed with a gunshot wound and was dragged away by other demonstrat­ors. The video circulated widely on the Internet, galvanizin­g anger.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhoo­d, including at least eight senior officials of the opposition group and its main spokesmen, were rounded up overnight. A security source said authoritie­s had ordered a crackdown on the group.

 ?? Mohamed Abd El-Ghany, Reuters ?? Riot police try to extinguish flames on their shields after anti-government protesters threw burning objects at them Thursday in Suez, Egypt.
Mohamed Abd El-Ghany, Reuters Riot police try to extinguish flames on their shields after anti-government protesters threw burning objects at them Thursday in Suez, Egypt.
 ?? Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images ?? “I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act,” says Mohamed ElBaradei, who plans to join protests today.
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images “I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act,” says Mohamed ElBaradei, who plans to join protests today.

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