CAIRO – Egypt’s Cabinet on Saturday scaled back a nighttime curfew that has been in place since the military’s brutal crackdown on protests more than a week ago left hundreds dead.
The curfew, imposed on 14 provinces, will now begin at 9 p.m., two hours later, state-run media reported. The decision was one of the first signs that the military-backed interim government may be relaxing its tight security grip as calm seems to be returning to the streets.
The move came a day after the Muslim Brotherhood and a coalition opposed to last month's military coup deposing President Mohamed Morsi held protests that were smaller than expected and proceeded with little violence.
The curfew will still run until 6 a.m. each day, and will continue to begin at 7 p.m. on Fridays, according to state-run Ahram Online. Fridays are traditionally the favored day for large protests in the Middle East.
The relaxing of the curfew came as the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was reopened, an Egyptian official told the Associated Press. The crossing was closed in recent days after 25 police officers were ambushed and killed in the Sinai Peninsula near Gaza.
The peninsula has been the site of increasing deadly attacks by militants in recent months. On Saturday, Egyptian troops killed four militants who had attacked a military checkpoint, the Associated Press reported.