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Egypt Courthouse Torched After Judges Quit Protester Death Case

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Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A courthouse in Egypt’s second-largest city was torched while security forces clashed with protesters in a new flare-up of violence days ahead of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

Judges at the Alexandria court had withdrawn from the trial of police officers accused of killing protesters during the revolt against Hosni Mubarak, shortly before they were scheduled to rule on it, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

The unrest was the latest example of the tensions gripping the Arab world’s most populous nation as it seeks to restore political stability and revive its economy with a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

Families of the victims had clashed with riot police a day earlier, and the fighting extended into a second day yesterday. Authorities said unidentified assailants set fire to part of the courthouse while at least two riot police trucks were also set ablaze, MENA reported.

In Cairo, at least six people were killed and 12 wounded in fighting that erupted after a stray bullet fired by police killed a civilian on Jan. 19, the state-run Ahram reported today. Prosecutors are investigating incident, it said.

Critics of President Mohamed Mursi have pointed to the acquittals of police accused of killing protesters during the 2011 revolution as evidence that the Islamist leader has failed to deliver on campaign pledges. Hostility toward the police, a key tool of repression under Mubarak, has served as a catalyst for repeated clashes between protesters and security forces over the past two years.

Opposition to Mursi, who narrowly defeated Mubarak’s last premier for the presidency in June, has gathered momentum over recent months, fueled by opposition to the country’s new Islamist-drafted constitution. More than a dozen political parties and youth activists groups have called for marches against Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood on Jan. 25, Ahram said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at teltablawy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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