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Cairo banks, shops reopen amid unrest

CAIRO - Egyptians desperate for cash lined up at reopened banks and Cairo's infamous traffic jams reappeared yesterday as the capital struggled to regain normalcy after nearly two weeks of unrest.

"It's much better than yesterday or the day before, ordinary people are back out walking around and look, we even have a traffic jam," said Ahmed Mohammed, 65, owner of a men's clothing store in a major upscale commercial district.

Most stores were open for the first time in days; others were boarded up with signs saying "closed due to looting."

Cairo, a city of 18 million, came to near-standstill after mass protests broke out demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Many Egyptians have been unable to access their bank accounts, and ATMs rapidly ran out of cash or were attacked by looters. A limited number of banks opened for three hours yesterday, sparking long lines at the financial institutions.

"There's a surreal feeling to all of this - almost like time stood still and we were trapped in a nightmare," said Zakariya el-Fattah, 29, who was waiting to withdraw money from a bank in the upscale Zamalek district. - AP

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