Today, 5 February 2011 is the first day I feel safe. On the previous days we were in the danger of thugs, looters and prison runaways knocking on our doors. Thank god it did not actually happen but we were close.

On 28 January 2011, Friday, police withdrew from civil life. They left their positions at traffic lights & police stations. From that moment, anarchy ruled and civilians, became the protectors. No one was safe any more.

The neighbors gathered in the street and we started defense strategies. We created roadblocks around our homes. We also decided on search policies and checking license of cars passing through. I live close to a bridge, which has 2 railways passing below it and several streets. We needed to secure that area too. So some of the neighbors made Molotov Cocktails. We thought we will never get to use it, but I was wrong.

This evening was eventful but quite. Every one was still concerned, so there were so many of us in the street. A young man counted 38 of us in one corner of a street only. It was in this corner that we had our first encounter with thugs. They passed through twice. The first was 2 guys mounting a motorbike. They realized they are out numbered, so they passed peacefully. The tactic was to send 2 to explore. When they find a quite street or a shop worth looting, they get more thugs behind them. The second time was 4 of them. They also had a motorbike with them. This time we heard one of them saying, who told us this was a quite street? There are many people here. Lets look somewhere else.

On 29 January 2011, night hours were getting more exciting. This is the day many prisons were either opened or attacked. A total of about 15000 prisoners were loose in the streets of Egypt.  I live next to one of these prisons. Luckily they had a good grip on this one. We think they grabbed this one good due to 2 reasons, Maadi, where I live, has many diplomats specially Americans and Tora prison has the most dangerous criminals, as far as I heard. So we were praying they will not escape.

The battle to hold the prison started at sunset. The families of the prisoners gathered outside the prison in thousands. Some of them had firearms. The army tanks were called to help. A total of 40 policemen and many army tanks kept the prison under control. The battle was intense. The gunshots were very close to us.

An hour later, we heard a lot of noise from the bridge and the boys started using the Molotov cocktails. Turns out that some prisoners managed to escape and they were coming very close to where we live. The brave boys on the bridge kept them away by the Molotov cocktails and the prisoners kept walking away from our homes.

The battle of Tora Prison ended just before sunrise. The news was 70 prisoners were killed in the battle. The next day, army issued a warning to the prisoners; if they try to escape again they will fire missiles on them from the tanks.

On 30 January 2011 we spent the night in the street. There were news on stolen cars and ambulances that had thugs looting shops and homes. A stolen jeep Cherokee came very close to us. It was kept away by the street block we created. The man next to the driver shot a bullet in the air then left. Few minutes later we managed to catch a car driven by a thief who had a gun and a sword. His trunk was filled with stolen clothes from a nearby shop. We caught him and gave him to the army.

The following evenings were more quite.

The above is my log on the few days of horror we lived trough.

We hope the best for our country and we hope this will be the start for a democratic state.

Basem Salah

Maadi – Cairo – 9 February 2011.  

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