Sunday, September 11, 2011

Egypt ups security after Israel embassy violence

Security vehicles lined up near the Israeli embassy in Egypt on Sunday after violence there forced Israel to evacuate its ambassador and both sides said they wanted a return to normal diplomatic activities.

Egypt's army rulers, who took over when Hosni Mubarak was ousted, have struggled to quell public fury against Israel since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month when Israel repelled cross-border raiders.

Protesters marched on the embassy in an apartment block on the Nile on Friday, the second major flare-up since the shooting. They stormed the building and clashed with police through the night. Charred police vehicles still lay nearby.

The United States criticized the violence and called on Egypt to protect the mission. Washington has given billions of dollars in military and other aid since 1979 when Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

"The security in front of the embassy has been enhanced," cabinet spokesman Mohamed Higazy told Reuters. "Returning back to normalcy is the objective for both sides."

Israel said it was working with Egypt to send Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon back to Cairo soon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in statement said he wanted to ensure necessary security steps were in place for the envoy's return.

About 16 trucks full of police and security, three buses of military police, two armored personnel carriers and other vehicles were parked near the embassy on Sunday. There was no protest on Sunday and traffic passed smoothly through a road junction that a day before had been littered with broken concrete and debris from the clashes.

Police had shot in the air and fired teargas to disperse protesters who also tore down a concrete barrier wall that Egypt's authorities erected to protect the embassy building.

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