Thousands Clash With Police In Egyptian Bread Riot

CAIRO (AP)--Thousands of demonstrators fought with police after a protest over flour rations in a town on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, a security official and state media said Sunday.

The state-owned daily Al-Ahram said some 8,000 protesters sealed off the main Cairo-Mediterranean highway for seven hours Saturday and burnt tires to stop traffic. Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens to disperse the crowd,

A security official said police were questioning 87 suspects.

The protesters were angered by the decision of authorities in Burullus to stop distributing subsidized flour directly to residents and instead deliver it exclusively to bakeries, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give statements.

Fishermen in Burullus prefer to bake a type of bread suited to long fishing voyages instead of buying the standard subsidized bread from bakeries.

There have also been accusations by the government that people are selling the subsidized flour on the black market for a profit, leading to shortages.

Like much of the rest of the world, Egypt has been wracked by rising food prices and stagnant wages, resulting in protests and demonstrations.

There has also been a shortage of the subsidized bread relied on by vast segments of this impoverished country of 76.5 million.

Some 10 people were reported killed since the beginning of the year after scuffles in bread lines.