CAIRO — Egyptian authorities today authorized police to use deadly force to protect themselves and key state institutions from attacks, after supporters of the deposed Islamist president torched two local government buildings near the capital.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of national security, said in a statement that the new measures come after the angry crowd stormed the buildings in Giza, the city next to Cairo that is home to the famed pyramids.
Simultaneously, Egypt’s military-backed government also pledged in a statement to confront “terrorist actions and sabotage” allegedly carried out by members of former President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.
On Wednesday, the government declared a nationwide state of emergency and nighttime curfew after a deadly crackdown on Morsi supporters holding sit-ins and nationwide clashes left more than 500 people dead.
Associated Press reporters witnessed the burning of the buildings in Giza — a two-story colonial-style villa and a four-story administrative building. The offices are located on the Pyramids Road on the west bank of the River Nile.
State TV blamed Morsi supporters for the fire and broadcast footage showing both structures burning as fire men evacuated employees from the larger building.
Tamarod, the youth movement that had organized mass rallies calling Morsi’s ouster, which came on July 3, said citizens should set up neighborhood watch groups to protect government and private property.
Meanwhile, successive attacks on Coptic Christian churches continued for a second day, according to Egypt’s official news agency and human rights advocates.
Egypt’s MENA agency said Morsi supporters set fire to the Prince Tadros church in the province of Fayoum, nearly 50 miles southwest of Cairo. The same province witnessed similar attacks on at least three churches in different villages on Wednesday.
Ishaq Ibrahim from The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group, documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country on Wednesday.