- Middle East/North Africa
Dozens of guests at the Semiramis Intercontinental in Cairo have checked out after the lobby was ransacked by mobs early Tuesday morning during clashes between security forces and protesters near Tahrir Square.
An executive at the hotel told reporters that more than 45 clients insisted on leaving despite the hotel's offer to relocate them to higher floors, away from the clashes. He said guests at other neighboring hotels also followed suit.
The hotel executive also demanded compensation from the Ministry of Tourism for losses sustained by hotels over the past few days, warning that the departing guests will return to their home countries with negative reports on the security situation in Egypt.
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil visited the Semiramis, located on Cairo's Corniche, Tuesday morning after the attack. Masked assailants had stormed the front entrance of the hotel overnight and looted an ATM machine. Local civilians intervened and held the assailants before handing them over to police.
Security forces beefed up their presence and deployed armored vehicles in front of the building, while some protesters also formed groups to protect the hotel.
The Black Bloc, a newly-formed group of masked protesters, denied any involvement in the hotel attack, claiming that they were the ones who arrested the attackers.
Plain-clothed security agents also arrested a number of protesters at the entrance of the Qasr al-Nil Bridge, while security forces intensified tear gas attacks, aiming to end clashes that have continued since Sunday.
Cairo, along with several other Egyptian governorates, has been witnessing clashes since Friday, when demonstrations around the country marked the second anniversary of the January 2011 uprising. Many of the demonstrations turned into protests against Muslim Brotherhood rule.
President Mohamed Morsy declared a state of emergency and imposed a 30-day curfew in Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, where dozens have been killed in ongoing violence.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm