Egypt shortens curfew after lull in unrest

Associated Press
View photos
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold posters showing victims of a military crackdown on their protest camp during a march in Cairo, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Arabic reads, "no for treachery", "no for military coup" and "martyrs of republican guard massacre ." Egyptian security and military forces deployed Friday around Cairo, closing off traffic in some major thoroughfares and in the city center ahead of protests by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's government has shortened a widely-imposed evening curfew by two hours starting Saturday, responding to citizens' demands as unrest in the country wanes.

The Cabinet said in a statement that the evening curfew would begin at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) rather than 7 p.m. (1700 GMT). The statement said an exception to the shorter hours will be in effect on Fridays, the first day of the weekend in Egypt and when recent protests have been incredibly fierce.

The month-long curfew had been in effect for 11 hours daily. That cut into Cairo's bustling night life and the revenue of many businesses, hotels and restaurants.

Egypt has been rocked by unrest since the popularly supported July 3 military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi. Violence has waned in recent days and calls for protests by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group largely fizzled on Friday after one of the country's bloodiest weeks in which more than 1,000 people died.

The violence was sparked by the government's decision to clear two Brotherhood-led sit-ins supporting Morsi. In Cairo, clashes pitted protesters against security forces and later locals in fierce violence.

In recent days, Cairo, a metropolis of some 18 million people, began to regain a sense of normalcy. The capital, however, remains under a state of emergency that gives security forces broad powers to arrest.

Though journalists and health professionals are exempt from the curfew, a reporter for the state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper was shot dead at a military checkpoint earlier this week.

The army said Tamer Abdel-Raouf tried to drive past a checkpoint after the curfew started. A colleague who was with him in the car at the time said the two had stopped at the checkpoint just before the evening curfew. The colleague said that Abdel-Raouf was shot dead while making a U-turn after soldiers barred them from continuing along the road.