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February 2 - 8 2011
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 30-32
Saving Nimrod Calls for a stay of execution intensify as first plane is scrapped
The true cost of PFI Andrew Gilligan investigates Labour’s Private Finance Initatives
Sculpture park Alastair Sooke reviews the Royal Academy’s eccentric new show
Davos developments Reports and comment from the 2011 World Economic Forum
17 14 20 43 47 49 5 20 25 30 36 47
Bonus Ball 31
Bonus Ball 15
There were three winners of Saturday’s £4.7m jackpot and one winner of Wednesday’s £2.9m prize
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On video ElBaradai returns to Cairo as violence escalates in Egypt’s cities telegraph.co.uk/egypt T
By Colin Freeman and Magdy Salmaan in Cairo EGYPT’S anti-government uprising showed signs of descending into lawlessness after thousands of prisoners were released on to the streets in a series of mass jailbreaks. Inmates escaped from at least four jails across the country, including suspected Islamic extremists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group.
As darkness fell on Sunday night, groups of club-wielding “citizens’ committees” manned checkpoints at road junctions across Cairo and other cities in an attempt to stop looters.
Egyptian police have been absent from the streets since last Friday – when they lost control of demonstrations seeking the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule – although they were reported to be returning. The army has been on the streets since then, but is largely restricted to static guard duty in tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
Many Egyptians claimed that the jailbreaks and looting were deliberately orchestrated by Mr Mubarak to convince them that an end to his rule would simply lead to chaos. “Egyptian state television has been showing the pictures of looting all day,” one man said. “This is designed to get protesters to leave the streets and go back to guard their homes.”
At the Abu Zaabal jail, locals claimed that thousands of prisoners had escaped after Bedouin tribesmen from Sinai – an area near the Israeli border notorious for smuggling and banditry – came to free jailed fellow clansmen last Saturday night.
One witness said: “At first they just fired randomly into the air, but then they started shooting at the prison guards, who fired back. Eventually the guards could not keep control and they left the jail. Thousands of people escaped.”
He said the escaped prisoners included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that contests elections in Egypt and aspires to be a power broker in any post-Mubarak government.
On Sunday, the area around the prison was still lawless, with groups of youths wandering around with clubs and gangs of looters stripping the jail of food supplies and furnishings.
As night fell, large groups of men and youths formed checkpoints all over Cairo, some also armed with knives and pistols. On the route back from Abu Zaabal into the city centre, The Telegraph encountered checkpoints
A man armed with a sword protects his property from gangs roaming the streets almost every 50 yards in some areas.
“We are protecting ourselves and the people,” said Mohamed Kamal, 21, wielding a large black baton. “Last night we arrested 12 criminals and handed them to the army, and today we caught another three. We support the demonstrations here but not any kind of destruction.”
Overall, though, The Telegraph saw little evidence that looting of private property had been particularly widespread.
Most Egyptians were at pains to dissociate the protests from any criminal acts. “Please tell the world that we are law-abiding people, not thugs or thieves,” said Ahmed Ghazi, 45, an engineer, outside a burnt-out police station.
By Martin Evans and David Millward HUNDREDS of British tourists were stranded in Cairo at the weekend after the city’s airport was engulfed by the crisis sweeping the country.
Desperate holidaymakers, heeding Foreign Office advice to leave Egypt, found flights grounded as staff abandoned their posts to join the national protests.
Passengers who risked venturing out of their hotels to travel to the airport found scenes of complete chaos with queues of several hours snaking around the terminal buildings. Unable to leave because of the night-time curfew, many were forced to bed down in the departure lounges.
Those stranded said the entire airport had run out of food and water, adding to the misery. Wendy Jonas said that her mother, Lesely Styan, 60, from Crawley, West Sussex, and four friends were among those stuck in Cairo. “They are in dire straits and we are just doing everything we can to get them home,” Mrs Jonas said. “She spent Saturday night sleeping under an escalator and they are just panicked and crying all the time.
“Mum told me the toilets are an absolute nightmare and the airport ran out of food on the land side. There has been violence outside and we are worried looters will make their way to the airport.”
Despite the deepening crisis, some airlines were accused of profiteering, as passengers saw the cost of flights back to Britain soar over the weekend.
One desperate traveller trying to book a one-way ticket back to Heathrow with British Airways reported
MUSEUM MUMMIES STOLEN AND FIGURINES SMASHED
LOOTERS have destroyed two mummies and smashed artefacts from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, considered to be one of the most important cultural archives in the world.
Nine men broke into the museum on the edge of Tahrir Square — the epicentre of protests — searching for gold. They broke into 10 cases to take figurines. When they discovered that the figures did not contain gold, they dropped and broke them. They then seized parts of the 2,000year-old mummies and fled.
Dr Zahi Hawass, the director of the museum, said: “Demonstrators in collaboration with security forces stopped the thieves and returned the relics to the museum — but they were already damaged.”
Egyptologists described the smashing of the artefacts as devastating. “It is appalling,” said Robert Connolly, an anthropologist and Egyptologist from the University of Liverpool. “If Egyptians are looting their own heritage, then it is truly terrible.
“But I would not be at all surprised if this was the work of a gang who were being directed by a dealer, from the Middle East or elsewhere. These artefacts are immensely valuable and can be sold for huge amounts of money. They have ways of smuggling them out of the country.
“Dr Hawass has spent many years building up the collection and he will be absolutely devastated by this.”
The museum, which houses more than 120,000 treasures, was protected by tanks by Sunday.
Harriet Alexander being quoted £1,500. However, BA insisted the company had not changed its pricing policy and blamed third-party vendors for inflating costs.
“Tickets are selling at a normal price. We have made no changes to our fares policy,” a spokesman said. “We are trying to operate normally, but we have had to amend plane times to comply with the curfew.”
The British carrier BMI said it would try to get several homeward-bound flights away on Monday, but these were subject to delay and cancellation, and it advised people to monitor its website.
However, with internet and mobile phone access restricted, many of those stranded were left with little choice than to head to the airport and hope for the best.
Questions were being asked about the Foreign Office’s response to the crisis after several other countries including the United States, India and Turkey announced that they were organising special flights for their nationals.
Some 30,000 Britons are thought to be in Egypt, the vast majority in the Red Sea resorts such as Sharm elSheikh, which, so far, have not been affected by the protests. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he was monitoring the situation closely but said there were no plans to send in special flights. He added that flights were going in and out of Cairo airport but a lack of staff there meant it was not functioning properly.
Dominic Asquith, the British Ambassador to Egypt, said: “There are a lot of challenges at the airport in Cairo. That’s why we’ve got the team up there trying to help. There are flights going in and out but it is not orderly.”
A rapid response team from the Foreign Office arrived at Cairo airport on Sunday night to assist British nationals stranded there. But some of those affected complained that not enough had been done.
A British expat, stuck in Cairo, said: “I am extremely frightened. Not enough is being done to keep us informed. We are being told to go the airport but it is going to be a nightmare because other nationalities are evacuating as well.”
Both British Airways and BMI, which fly direct services to and from Cairo, gave warning that the scheduled times had been altered to fit around the curfew.
Egyptian authorities announced that the curfew would be extended and would be in operation between 3pm and 8am from Monday.