The US is working to ensure its embassy and diplomats in Egypt are safe, US President Barack Obama said yesterday after one American was killed and opposition groups vowed millions would march on Cairo in an effort to oust Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
The US government was warning Americans to steer clear of Egypt if possible as violence continued unabated. The US Department of State confirmed a 21-year-old college student — Andrew Pochter of Chevy Chase, Maryland — died a day earlier while photographing battles between supporters and foes of the Islamist president.
Obama said the US was in direct contact with the Egyptian government about security arrangements and was planning ahead for larger protests over the weekend.
Rage in the streets as protesters stormed political offices in Egyptian cities has unnerved US diplomats, still reeling from the attack last year on a US mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans — including the ambassador. The Obama administration appeared eager to show it was leaving nothing to chance as Cairo braced for the one-year anniversary of Morsi’s taking power as Egypt’s first freely elected leader.
Obama said the US supports freedom of speech in Egypt and the right of protesters to peacefully assemble.
At least seven Egyptians have been killed and hundreds injured in days of clashes that have fed an impending sense of doom in Egypt. Thousands of Morsi’s supporters and opponents held rival sit-ins in separate parts of Cairo yesterday on the eve of planned, nationwide protests today demanding he leave office.
Warning of Molotov cocktails deployed by protesters and tear gas by police, the US Department of State urged Americans on Friday to forgo all but essential travel to Egypt and moved to reduce the official US presence in the country.