Fearful Neighborhoods Form Own Security Patrols

CAIRO - For better or for worse, the only police force Cairo has went back to work Monday: Hosni Mubarak's state police, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

Most people in Cairo despise the state police. They're seen as professional thugs and thieves, tools of the same corrupt state that has sparked this revolt.

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Since last Tuesday, when protesters began battling police in the streets, dozens have been killed. Police trucks torched. Police stations looted. Then last Friday, the police disappeared.

For three days, not one cop protected this city of 18 million people, twice the size of New York. Jail breaks freed thousand of inmates. Gangs ran wild. It's widely believed some looters were police.

Monday, the police are back. But the fear's staying put.

CBS News saw police Monday only on Cairo's West side in neighborhoods like Dokki.

But just one mile away, across the Nile lies Liberation Square, and thousands of protestors. And here, police seem invisible. Apparently, too provocative.

So Monday night on Sad Al Ally Street, the checkpoints will stay up.

President Mubarak preplaced his interior minister Monday, who oversees the state police. But that's unlikely to mean much in a country where so many people demand radical change.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.