David Cameron has urged the Egyptian government to act on international calls for an orderly transition to democracy.
Arriving at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, the Prime Minister warned: “If we see on the streets of Cairo today state-sponsored violence by thugs hired to beat up protesters, the regime will lose any remaining credibility it has in the eyes of the watching world, including Britain.”
He went on: “We have been clear that Egypt should be taking steps to show there is a clear, credible transparent path towards transition. So far the steps taken have not met the hopes of the people.
“EU leaders today have to come together to show they support that orderly transition.”
In Egypt, demonstrators demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak have called for another day of mass protests on what is being called “Friday of departure”.
US officials have disclosed that Barack Obama’s administration is in talks with senior Egyptian officials about the possible immediate resignation of Mr Mubarak and the establishment of an interim government to prepare for elections later in the year.
However, in an interview on Thursday with American television, the 82-year-old president said he is fed up and wants to stand down but cannot do so because the country would sink into chaos if he left.
Meanwhile, Britons arriving home after fleeing the escalating violence have described Cairo as being like a war zone, with marauding thugs and escaped prisoners terrorising the streets.
The 161 passengers arrived at Gatwick Airport on Thursday night on the first of two Foreign Office-chartered flights from the Egyptian capital.
Among those fleeing the violence was 16-year-old Shukria Ahmed-Nur, who told how marauding thugs terrorised the streets near where she lived with “samurai swords, machetes and other weapons”.