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Mubarak's damage control: Too little, too late?

Looters rampaged through malls and luxury shops in upmarket Cairo, as more army men doffed their uniforms and joined the unprecedented movement for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster that has left over 100 dead in the last six days.

world Updated: Jan 30, 2011 14:30 IST

Looters rampaged through malls and luxury shops in upmarket Cairo, as more army men doffed their uniforms and joined the unprecedented movement for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster that has left over 100 dead in the last six days.

Breaking into malls along the Nile, looters picked up TV sets, furniture, electronic items and clothes defying curfew and and heavy presence of security personnel in the capital.

A beleaguered Mubarak, 82, had on Saturday showed first signs of handing over power as he appointed for the first time his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman as Vice-President after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Thousands of protesters defied the curfew for the second night and Cairo's central Tahrir (Liberation) Square remained filled with protesters. Troops and armoured vehicles have been deployed across the city to guard key government buildings, and major tourist and archaeological sites.

Despite heavy security presence, at least two looters managed to get into Cairo's museum of antiquities and damaged some of the exhibits. Thieves broke into the Arab International Bank and several cafes and eateries. To protect their property from looters, residents of the city set up committees armed with guns, clubs and knives.

At least 102 people have been killed in five days of anti government unrest, security and medical sources said.

Protesters tried to storm the Interior Ministry in central Cairo on Saturday, after which police opened fire killing three persons. Shortly after Suleiman, an army career man, was sworn in, Mubarak asked the current aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq, to form a new government.

Shafiq, a former chief of Air Staff, has often been mooted as a potential successor to Mubarak. As the violence raged, the President held crisis talks with officials late in the afternoon and appointed the new Vice President and Prime Minister.