Tension is running high in Egypt after police and demonstrators clashed on 6 April during protests over the rising price of basic necessities including food.

The epicentre of the disorder was the Nile Delta town of Mahalla el-Kobra, about 120 km north of Cairo, where international press sources say around 80 people were injured and 150 more arrested and property destroyed in riots that lasted well into the night.

In Cairo police were deployed in the main squares to prevent mass protests but smaller demonstrations took place outside universities and the Egyptian Bar Association. Many residents also voiced their anger by staying away from work or skipping school.

The protests came after opposition groups called for a general strike over rising living costs in Egypt on the same day. Though the strike itself did not materialise, the demonstrations are seen by many as sending an important message to the government ahead of nationwide local council elections on 8 April.

Prices of basic necessities have risen steeply in Egypt in recent months, fuelled partly by the rising cost of staples on the global market. The United Nations food aid agency World Food Programme estimates that the average expenditure of an Egyptian family has doubled since the start of the year.