CAIRO (AP) — Fighter jets swooped low over Cairo Sunday in what appeared to be an attempt by the military to show its control of a city beset by looting, armed robbery and anti-government protests.
Minutes before the start of a 4 p.m. curfew, at least two jets appeared and made multiple passes over downtown, including a central square where thousands of protesters were calling for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak.
Police could be seen returning to some streets nearly two days after virtually disappearing, creating a security vacuum only partially filled by the presence of army troops backed by tanks at key sites around this city of 18 million people.
After days of escalating chaos, gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates. Gangs of young men with guns and large sticks smashed cars and robbed people in Cairo.
The army sent hundreds more troops and armored vehicles onto the streets Sunday morning and afternoon. Truckloads of hundreds of police poured back into Cairo neighborhoods Sunday afternoon and took up positions on the streets.
In some spots, they were jeered by residents who chanted anti-police slogans and demanded that they only be allowed to deploy jointly with the military.
As the curfew approached, the jets roared over the Nile and toward Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, where thousands of protesters have gathered for five straight days to demand the end of an administration they blame for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality.
The jets made several passes over the square, dropping lower every time. They keep getting closer everytime.
"They want to scare the people. They are agitating the people," said protester Alfred Raouf, a 34-year-old software engineer.
Sarah El Deeb and Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.
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