The head of the Egyptian military said political conflict in the country could lead to the collapse of the state and protecting the Suez Canal was one of the main objectives of an army deployment in nearby cities shaken by violence.
“The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces … over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of the state,” General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is also defense minister, said. His remarks were published on the official Facebook page of the army spokesman.
His comments came after protesters defied a nighttime curfew in restive towns along the Suez Canal, attacking police stations and ignoring emergency rule imposed by President Mohamed Morsi to end days of clashes that have killed at least 52 people.
At least two men died in overnight fighting in the canal city of Port Said in the latest outbreak of violence unleashed last week on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 revolt that brought down autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Political opponents spurned a call by Morsi for talks on Monday to try to end the violence. Instead, huge crowds of protesters took to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria and in the three Suez Canal cities, Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, where Morsi imposed emergency rule and a curfew on Sunday.
“Down, down with Mohamed Morsi! Down, down with the state of emergency!” crowds shouted in Ismailia. In Cairo, flames lit up the night sky as protesters set police vehicles ablaze. In Port Said, men attacked police stations after dark. A security source said some police and troops were injured. A medical source said two men were killed and 12 injured in the clashes, including 10 with gunshot wounds.