Rubber bullets used against protesters in Tahrir Square
Two dead, hundreds wounded in clashes as people demand end to military rule
C lashes erupted between protesters and police in Cairo and two other Egyptian cities, killing two people and wounding hundreds in the biggest security challenge yet for the country’s ruling generals days before scheduled elections.
In Cairo, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a sit-in organized by some of the driving forces behind the Arab Spring revolt.
One of the dead was a man who sustained a bullet wound to the chest, a doctor on the scene said.
The state news agency MENA quoted health ministry spokesman Mohammed Sherbini saying that Ahmed Mahmoud, a 23-yearold demonstrator, died in hospital. MENA reported another death in Egypt’s second city Alexandria.
A total of 676 people were also wounded in the clashes in the capital’s iconic Tahrir Square, epicentre of the 18 days of protests that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak in February, MENA reported. The interior ministry said 40 police officers were among the injured. “Down with Tantawi,” hundreds of protesters cried, referring to the country’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, as they lobbed rocks and whatever else came to hand toward police who responded with heavy volleys of rubber bullets.
Sporadic clashes persisted into the evening near the interior ministry, an AFP correspondent reported.
“We will never be scared again. They can shoot at us all they want,” protester Nasma Abdel Azim said.
The day began when police moved into Tahrir Square in the morning to disperse the demonstrators, who included relatives of victims of the revolt that overthrew Mubarak.
Clashes continued through the afternoon and demonstrators seized a police truck which they set ablaze.
A police officer on an armoured car shot rubber bullets into the crowd, striking a journalist in the forehead and a Western photographer in the face, the correspondent said.
One of the protesters, Ali Abdel Aziz, said security forces beat up protesters to break up the sit-in.
“They beat us harshly, they didn’t care for either men or women. The interior ministry must take responsibility. We have one demand, the military council must go,” said the 32-year-old accountancy professor.
Medics on Tahrir Square said they had treated several people for eye injuries from rubber bullets. Reports on Twitter and Youtube showed at least two activists who had lost an eye.
“We didn’t have a revolution so the people we removed could come back to parliament,” said 30-year-old activist Ahmed Abol Enein. “We need a transfer of power to civilians. Everything that is happening shows the military wants to stay in power.”
Friday’s demonstration called on the military-appointed cabinet to withdraw a constitutional draft that would prevent parliamentary scrutiny of the defence budget.
An Egyptian protester chants slogans against riot police during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Saturday. Riot police cleared the square of protesters who had camped overnight after a rally of about 50,000 people.