Growing violence in Egypt amid more than a week of protests is prompting outrage in the international community and raising suspicions that the government has played a role in forceful clamp downs.
Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq apologized for the violence during an appearance on local television, according to The Associated Press, and other officials have also vowed to investigate. The U.S. has condemned reports of violence in the country, and urging the government to ensure peace.
Protests are raging in Cairo and elsewhere between anti-government protestors and supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Various reports cite incidences of attacks on journalists and demonstrators, gunshots, rock-throwing, looting and some cases of arson, according to the AP.
Speaking on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said a transition "must begin now." Obama made his comments after speaking with Mubarak, who announced he would not pursue another term in office in September, when the country's elections are scheduled — but that he would not step down sooner. Protestors continue to call for him to leave office now, and are trying to force him from power by Friday.
The White House continues to call for "free and fair elections" in Egypt as violence continues this week. During a briefing Wednesday, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated the president's condemnation of violence and call for an "orderly transition."
"There are reforms that need to be undertaken, and there are opposition entities that have to be included in the conversations as we move toward free and fair elections that we've advocated for quite some time," Gibbs said, providing few details on the transition.
At least eight people have been killed amid the chaos in Egypt, and hundreds more wounded, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, demonstrations continue elsewhere in the region. Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Thursday to renew their call for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave office, and additional protests against the government in Jordan are also expected this week.
The spate of recent uprisings in the region began last month, when Tunisians took to the streets to force their longtime president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.