* Interior Ministry guarded by army armoured vehicles
* Heavy military presence replaces police
* Vigilantes protect Cairo buildings from mobs of looters
* Israel must exercise restraint, hopes for stability: PM
By Samia Nakhoul and Sherine El Madany
CAIRO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Egyptians faced lawlessness on
their streets on Sunday with security forces and ordinary people
trying to stop looters after days of popular protest demanding
an end to President Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian 30-year rule.
Throughout the night, Cairo residents armed with clubs,
chains and knives formed vigilante groups to guard
neighbourhoods from marauders after the unpopular police force
withdrew following clashes with protesters that left more than
By morning, the capital's streets were mostly deserted, with
the army guarding the Interior Ministry, and citizens putting
their trust in the military, hoping they would restore order but
not open fire to keep key U.S. ally Mubarak, 82, in power.
Up to 3,000 people gathered on Sunday in Tahrir Square,
which has become a rallying point to express anger at poverty,
repression and corruption in the Arab world's most populous
nation. "The people want the fall of Mubarak," they chanted.
"Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, both of you are agents of the
Americans," shouted protesters, referring to the appointment of
intelligence chief Suleiman as a vice president, the first time
Mubarak has appointed a deputy in 30 years of office.
It was the position Mubarak held before he become president
and could set the scene for a transition of power. Many saw it
as ending his son Gamal's long-predicted ambitions to take over.
"Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits," demonstrators said.
Sunday is normally a working day in Egypt but banks and
financial markets were ordered shut by the central bank. The
bourse said it would stay closed on Monday.
The unprecedented turmoil has sent shock waves through the
Middle East, where other autocratic rulers may face similar
challenges, and unsettled financial markets around the globe.
Police beat and arrested students in central Khartoum,
witnesses said on Sunday, as demonstrations inspired by events
in Egypt broke out in the city demanding the government resign.
ARMY KEY TO EGYPT'S FUTURE
The protests bore many hallmarks of the unrest that toppled
the leader of Tunisia two weeks ago, although the arrival of
army troops to replace the police showed that Mubarak still has
the support of the military, the country's most powerful force.
Army tanks and tracked vehicles stood at the capital's
street corners, guarding banks as well as government offices and
the Interior Ministry headquarters. State security fought with
protesters trying to attack the building on Saturday night.
"We secured the Interior Ministry this morning and evacuated
state security personnel. The ministry is empty," an army
officer who did not want to be named told Reuters. "We're here
for as long as it takes."
The tumult was effecting Egypt's tourist industry and the
U.S. embassy said on Sunday it was offering evacuation flights
to Europe for U.S. citizens who are anxious to leave the
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that
Jerusalem must exercise responsibility and restraint in the face
of the unrest and hoped that stability and peaceful ties would
last with Egypt, the first Arab nation to make peace with
Egypt said it had shut down the operations of satellite
broadcaster Al Jazeera which has shown footage of the
demonstrations taking place in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria and
heavy-handed police tactics to the rest of the Arab world.
The government has interfered with Internet access and
mobile phone signals to try and disrupt demonstrators' plans.
Twitter messages on Sunday were urging Egyptians to assemble at
Tahrir Square to resume their anti-Mubarak message.
The United States and European powers were busy reworking
their Middle East policies, which have supported Mubarak,
turning a blind eye to police brutality and corruption in return
for a bulwark against first communism and now militant Islam.
In Cairo, the biggest immediate fear was of looting as
public order collapsed. Mobs stormed banks, supermarkets,
jewellery shops and government offices. Some suggested the chaos
could herald a security forces crackdown.
Thieves at the Egyptian Museum damaged two mummies from the
time of the pharaohs.
On a main street in the Maadi district, groups of men stayed
up through the night at barricades built from old lampposts,
bits of wood and anything else they could find. A curfew went
In surreal scenes, soldiers from Mubarak's army stood by
tanks covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti: "Down with Mubarak. Down
with the despot. Down with the traitor. Pharaoh out of Egypt."
Asked how they could let protesters write anti-Mubarak
slogans on their vehicles, one soldier said: "These are written
by the people, it's the views of the people."
Residents expressed hope the troops would restore order.
"People are terrified from these outlaws on the streets looting,
attacking and destroying," said Salah Khalife, an employee at a
On Saturday, Mubarak bowed to protesters and appointed a
vice-president for the first time, a move seen as lining up
Suleiman as an eventual successor, at least for a transition
Egyptians say the changes mean nothing unless Mubarak goes.
"All these changes he made are sedatives," said Khalife.
"People don't want Mubarak any more. People want change ... He
doesn't want to leave. He is a thug."
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said
on Saturday: "The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck
and then stand pat."
As in Tunisia, Egypt's exploding young population, most of
them underemployed and frustrated by oppression at the hands of
a corrupt and rapacious elite, were demanding a full clear-out
of the old guard.
"This is the Arab world's Berlin moment," said Fawaz Gerges
of the London School of Economics, comparing the events to the
fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. "The authoritarian wall has
fallen, and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives."
Saturday saw the worst bloodshed so far of the five-day
uprising. Police shot dead 17 people in Bani Suef, south of
Cairo. Various estimates put the overall death toll in the five
days of unrest at more than 100.
(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed,
Sherine El Madany, Yasmine Saleh, Alison Williams and Samia
Nakhoul in Cairo, Alexander Dziadosz in Suez, Arshad Mohammed in
Washington and Peter Apps, Angus MacSwan and William Maclean in
London; Writing by Peter Millership, editing by Sonya
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