Cairo clashes reach 2nd day, 1,000 hurt
EGYPTIAN security forces clashed for a second day in Cairo with hundreds of youths demanding that the country’s military rulers speed up prosecution of police officers accused of brutality during mass protests that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down.
More than 1,000 people have been injured, a senior official said yesterday.
In scenes reminiscent of the 18- day uprising that ousted Mubarak on February 11, riot police deployed around the Interior Ministry building and fired in the air or used tear gas as demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs. The fighting left streets littered with rocks and debris and a heavy, white cloud of tear gas hung over the area.
By late afternoon, army troops backed by armored vehicles took over from riot police who had been protecting the Interior Ministry, closing all roads leading to the complex, the official Middle East News Agency reported.
The protests attest to the ongoing upheaval in Egypt nearly five months after Mubarak stepped down. The country is struggling with a worsening economic crisis and a security vacuum that has led to a surge in crime.
The question of meting out justice to those responsible for the deaths of some 850 protesters during the uprising is among the most divisive in post-Mubarak Egypt. Many of those who took part in the uprising accuse the ruling military of showing too much reverence to key figures of the old government and lenience with senior police commanders accused of ordering the killing of protesters.
Assistant Health Minister Abdul-Hameed Abazah said that of the injured, some 900 were treated on the spot and more than 120 went to hospitals.
Most of the injured suffered from gas inhalation or concussions, officials said. At least 18 cars and 11 stores were damaged.
Ambulances ferried the wounded to hospitals, and volunteer doctors and nurses treated others on sidewalks.
The military issued a statement on its Facebook page claiming the clashes were designed to “destabilize the country” and drive a wedge between the groups behind the uprising and the security forces.