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Egypt shortens curfew as unrest over coup wanes.

Byline: Tony G. Gabriel

CAIRO -- Egypt's government on Saturday shortened a widely imposed evening curfew, signaling that authorities sense turmoil is waning after unrest after the president's ouster threatened to destabilize the country this month.

The Cabinet's decision to cut the curfew by two hours came as Egypt's interim prime minister vowed that his government's priority is restoring security.

Egypt experienced one of the deadliest bouts of violence in recent days since its Arab Spring began in 2011. Nationwide clashes and attacks killed more than 1,000 people after the security forces cleared two Cairo sit-ins belonging to supporters of toppled President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown in a popularly supported July 3 military coup.

Since the unrest spiked, much of Egypt has been under a military-imposed nighttime curfew. Responding to citizens' demands, the government said in a statement Saturday that the 11 hour-long curfew would be in place daily for just nine hours. However, the full curfew would remain in place for Fridays, the first day of the weekend in Egypt and when last week's protests were incredibly fierce.

The easing of the curfew was announced a day after calls for protests by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group largely fizzled out.

The announcement Saturday came as many were rushing to try to make it home before the curfew hours began. The curfew especially has choked Cairo's bustling night life and the revenue of many businesses, hotels and restaurants.

In recent days, Cairo, a metropolis of some 18 million people, began to regain a sense of normalcy. The capital, however, remains under a state of emergency that gives security forces broad powers to arrest.

Security forces have used those powers to go after the Brotherhood's top and midlevel figures, including the group's supreme leader Mohammed Badie. Most are being accused of inciting violence.

Late Saturday, security forces said they arrested Mohie Hamed in a Cairo apartment. It was not immediately clear what charges he faces. He was a presidential adviser to Morsi and a former member of the Brotherhood's political guidance bureau.

Authorities have alleged that Morsi supporters are committing acts of terrorism and point to a string of attacks against churches and government buildings.

Morsi supporters deny their protests are violent, accusing authorities of smearing their movement and trying to cripple the once-powerful party.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi told reporters he will not accept people feeling unsafe.

''We are sorry for the number of injured... and we are all extremely sad for each drop of blood,'' el-Beblawi said. ''But if the price is that people don't feel secure... we won't accept that.''

El-Beblawi said that security measures will not be enough on their own. He said Egypt ''must go down the political path'' to work out a democratic transition through reconciliation. However, he ruled out talks with those who have committed acts of violence.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and stressed the importance of a transparent political process that includes all Egyptians and resolves differences without violence. The two have reportedly spoken many times since the coup.
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Author:Gabriel, Tony G.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Aug 25, 2013
Words:518
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