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Egypt’s police strike spreads nationwide; Morsi deploys Army

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — The strike by Egypt’s police has created a security crisis throughout the
country.

Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency said that at least 30 police
stations have stopped working amid nationwide unrest. MENA said police shut
down their facilities as part of their demand for the dismissal of Interior
Minister Mohammed Ibrahim.

Egyptian policeman, on strike, stands at the gate of the Qasr el-Nile police station, in front of a banner reading, closed for the end of our patience, during a protest in Cairo on March 8.  /Amr Nabil/AP

An Egyptian policeman, on strike, stands at the gate of the Qasr el-Nile police station in front of a banner reading “closed for the end of our patience”, during a protest in Cairo on March 8. /Amr Nabil/AP

“They have declared a revolt against the policy of the Interior
Ministry,” a police source said.

The police shutdown has prompted President Mohammed Morsi to order the deployment of the Egyptian Army. Morsi urged the Army to take over law enforcement and security responsibilities in Port Said, where police fled amid bloody riots in March.

“The Egyptian armed forces is a combat institution not a security
institution,” Egyptian Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, head of the Army division in Port Said, said. “No one can imagine the Army replacing the Interior Ministry.”

On March 9, some of the protesters tried to attack the Suez Canal and
torched buildings along the coast. Army units were said to have helped douse the flames and block the protesters from interfering with canal traffic.

“The canal is safe and open to all ships passing through it,” Suez Canal
Authority spokesman Tarek Hassanein said.

MENA said seven of the striking police stations were located in Cairo.
The agency, which reported widespread criticism of the new Islamist
regime, said police officers have accused Ibrahim of working for the ruling
Muslim Brotherhood.

“They also accuse him of forcing police into unnecessary confrontations
with citizens within the context of ongoing political unrest across the
country,” MENA said.

Egypt’s official Al Ahram daily said divisions of the Central Security
Forces in the Sinai Peninsula were also on strike. The newspaper said police
also went on strike in Alexandria, Ismailia and other cities. On March 9,
the Interior Ministry ordered a security alert in Sinai.

Security sources said at least 10,000 police officers, most of them
conscripts, have gone on strike at a camp near Menoufia. They said thousands
of police were also refusing to redeploy to riot-torn cities amid a rapidly
growing walkout.

“We want a law to protect us,” an unidentified police officer said.
“They tell us to confront the protesters. Then when we do we are put in
jail.”

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