Published: January 29. 2013 4:00AM PST
An unpredictable new element has entered Egypt’s wave of political unrest: a mysterious group of masked young men called the Black Bloc who present themselves as the defenders of protesters opposed to the Islamist president’s rule.
They boast that they’re willing to use force to fight back against Islamists who have attacked protesters in the past — or against police who crack down on demonstrations. The youths with faces hidden under black masks have appeared among stone-throwing protesters in clashes with police around Egypt the past five days in the wave of political violence that has shaken the country.
And on Monday in Port Said, police fired indiscriminately into the streets outside their besieged station, a group of protesters arrived with a crate of gasoline bombs and others cheered a masked man on a motorcycle who arrived with a Kalashnikov.
The growing chaos along the vital canal zone showed little sign of abating Monday as President Mohammed Morsi called out the army to try to regain control of three cities along the Suez Canal whose growing lawlessness is testing the integrity of the Egyptian state.
— From wire reports
Khalil Hamra / The Associated Press