State of emergency declared, curfew imposed

The presidency has declared a month-long state of emergency with a mandatory curfew in most governorates starting Wednesday at 4 pm, as clashes intensified nationwide and the Health Ministry reported at least 95 deaths.

The curfew will be imposed in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Beheira, Suez, North Sinai, South Sinai, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Ismailia, Sohag, Qena and Fayoum from 7 pm to 6 am as long as the state of emergency is in effect, the presidency said.

Violence spread in governorates across Egypt after security forces moved early on Wednesday to disperse two sit-ins by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi that have been taking place for more than a month in Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square.

More than 700 have been injured, according to the ministry. However, Brotherhood sources report the death toll to be far higher than the ministry’s count of 95, placing the number of injured in the thousands.

Last month, interim President Adly Mansour issued a presidential decree delegating Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi to give the Armed Forces arrest powers if a state of emergency were announced.

The state of emergency limits the freedom of people to assemble and move, and makes room for the arrest of people deemed a danger on to national security, without abiding to legal stipulations usually applicable.

It also allows the president to monitor and censor any type of media, seize private property and limit the working hours of commercial shops.

Earlier in the day, the Central Bank of Egypt ordered all banks to close their branches at 12 pm while the trading on the stock market remained operational, incurring heavy losses.

Stock exchange chairperson, Mohamed Omran, said the market will be closed starting Thursday in the wake of the Central Bank’s decision to halt bank operations in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Sherif Taha, spokesperson of the Salafi Nour Party, said in statements to state news agency Al-Ahram that dispersing the pro-Morsi sit-ins by force only serves to complicate an already volatile political stalemate.

He added that the Nour Party reiterates that there is no substitute for a political solution to end the current crisis. Taha called on the state to stop all forms of violence against protesters, and meanwhile asked protesters to use self-restraint and halt the attacks on churches and state institutions, warning that civil war is now imminent.

As clashes erupted in a number of neighborhoods in Cairo, violence broke out around the country with numerous reports of attacks on churches in Upper Egypt, Suez as well as attacks on state buildings in Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh and elsewhere.

The Strong Egypt Party called for safe passage to rescue the injured from the site of clashes, calling for an end to the siege at Rabea and demanding that ambulances and medical teams be allowed to move freely.

Sources in Rabea had complained that ambulances were unable to reach the injured. 

A standoff is currently taking place between security forces and hundreds of protesters on the October 6 Bridge ramp leading to Nasr City in an attempt to reach the Rabea sit-in.

Two journalists were killed in the violence on Wednesday and attacks on media personnel have also been reported.

Turkey, which had been a close ally to Morsi, has spoken out against the forcible dispersal of the sit-ins by security forces.

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