Rub­ber bul­lets used against pro­test­ers in Tahrir Square

Two dead, hundreds wounded in clashes as peo­ple de­mand end to mil­i­tary rule

Ottawa Citizen - - WORLD -

CAIRO

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.

AMR AB­DAL­LAH DALSH, REUTERS

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.

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