Reuters Pictures 11 minutes ago
Anti-government protesters throw rocks at pro-government protesters during clashes outside the National Museum near Tahrir square in Cairo February 3, 2011. Anti-government protesters and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak clashed on Thursday near a central Cairo square in a re-run of overnight violence that killed six and wounded more than 800 people.
Reuters Pictures 21 minutes ago
Opposition supporters throw stones at pro-Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. Anti-government protesters and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak clashed on Thursday near a central Cairo square in a re-run of overnight violence that killed six and wounded more than 800 people.
Getty Images 55 minutes ago
CAIRO, EGYPT – FEBRUARY 03: A captured Egyptian man that anti-government protesters allege is a member of the Egyptian government security forces (R) waits as another is interrogated an ad hoc anti-government command center on February 3, 2011 in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Anti-government Egyptian leaders questioned the man and several other suspected security officers, who were captured near Tahrir Square, allegedly trying to blend in with anti-government protesters. The standoff between anti- and pro-Mubarek factions in Egypt’s central square continued after a day and night of violence in which hundreds were injured in clashes.
CAIRO, EGYPT – FEBRUARY 03: An Egyptian anti-government protester stands on a balcony over the front line between anti- and pro-Mubarek factions on the edge of Tahrir Square on February 3, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. The standoff between anti- and pro-Mubarek factions in Egypt’s central square continued after a day and night of violence in which hundreds were injured in clashes.
Egypt army moves to stop assault on protesters
CAIRO – Egyptian army tanks and soldiers cleared away pro-government rioters and deployed between them and protesters seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, as the prime minister made an unprecedented apology Thursday for the assault by regime backers that turned central Cairo into a battle zone.
Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told state TV that the attack Wednesday on the anti-government protesters was a “blatant mistake” and promised to investigate who was behind it.
The protesters accuse the regime of organizing the assault, using paid thugs and policemen in civilian clothes, in an attempt to crush their movement. Government supporters charged central Tahrir Square Wednesday afternoon, sparking 15 hours of uncontrolled chaos, with the two sides battled with rocks, sticks, bottles and firebombs as soliders largely stood by without intervening.
The military began to move with muscle for the first time to stop the fighting early Thursday after a barrage of automatic gunfire hit the anti-government camp before dawn, killing at least three protesters in a serious escalation.
Four tanks cleared a highway overpass from which Mubarak supporters had hurled rocks and firebombs onto the protesters. Soldiers on the streets carrying rifles lined up between the two sides around 11 a.m. Several hundred other soldiers were moving toward the front line.
Thursday morning, more protesters streamed into the square, joining the thousands of defenders who spent the chilly night there, hunkered down against the thousands of government supporters in the surrounding streets.
A sense of victory ran through the protesters, even as they organized their ranks in the streets in case of a new assault. “Thank God, we managed to protect the whole area,” said Abdul-Rahman, a taxi driver who spent the night in the square. “We prevented the pro-Mubarak people from storming the streets leading to the square.” He refused to give his full name.
The apology by Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak over the weekend, was highly unusual from a leadership that rarely makes public admissions of a mistake. His promise to investigate who organized the attack came only hours after the Interior Ministry issued a denial that any of its police were involved.
Egypt protesters stick to demands as Cairo battle rages
by Sara Hussein Sara Hussein – 1 hr 3 mins ago
CAIRO (AFP) – Thousands of protesters demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster stood their ground on Thursday against stone-throwing loyalists after Egypt’s revolt turned into a deadly battle for a central Cairo square.
On the 10th day of a popular uprising, the opposition National Coalition for Change rejected any talks with Mubarak’s regime before the veteran leader goes, spokesman Mohammed Abul Ghar told AFP.
State television said earlier that Vice President Omar Suleiman had opened a dialogue with “political parties and national forces,” although he himself has ruled out talks with the opposition until all protesters go home.
The health ministry, cited on the television, said five people were killed and 836 injured since Wednesday in running clashes for control of Tahrir Square, the focal point of the anti-Mubarak protests.
Around 50 army troops finally moved in to create a buffer zone early on Thursday between the warring protesters, but pro-regime militants later broke through the lines to hurl stones, correspondents at the scene said.
Tens of thousands of protesters have said they will go ahead with plans for a massive demonstration on Friday, their designated “departure day” for Mubarak.
As EU nations urged an immediate political transition to end the bloodshed and urged Cairo to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said the clashes would be investigated.
Dr Mohammed Ismail, at a makeshift clinic in another square next to Tahrir, said gunmen killed at least four of the anti-Mubarak protesters, with the shots allegedly fired by plainclothes police loyal to the creaking regime.
The gunfire came after backers of Mubarak stormed the Tahrir Square stronghold of anti-regime protesters on Wednesday afternoon.
The two sides fought battles with stones and Molotov cocktails through the night and into Thursday morning, with many of the square’s paving slabs torn up and broken into fist-sized projectiles.
Washington, which has repeatedly called for restraint, condemned the violence against “peaceful protesters” while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the attacks on demonstrators were “unacceptable.”
US President Barack Obama has called for the transition from Mubarak’s three-decade-long rule to begin immediately after the veteran president announced late on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in September.
But the Egyptian foreign ministry said such calls “sought to inflame the internal situation.”
Wounded 11-year-old Mohammed Ghozlan and his father Khaled were Thursday morning at a field clinic opposite the world-famous Egyptian Museum, having spent the night on the square.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry, you’re a hero,” Khaled tells his son, who has a gash on the side of his head requiring four stitches.
Protesters have erected corrugated iron and rubbish barricades on streets leading into the square, where thousands spent a chilly night, sleeping, chanting, throwing stones and nursing wounds.
Soldiers deployed around the square have retreated into their tanks and armoured personnel carriers, after a hail of rocks rained down on them for hours on Wednesday.
One in 10 people have some kind of visible injury, an AFP correspondent said, with volunteers distributing food and clothing to the exhausted protesters.
Citizens have built an improvised 10-foot (over two metre) high stone-throwing catapult out of planks and a crate.
With the casualty toll shooting up, the US State Department issued a stark travel warning for citizens in Egypt, urging those who want to leave to “immediately” head for the airport, adding that any delay was “not advisable.”
From early Wednesday afternoon until well into the night, regime supporters and opponents threw stones and battled with sticks and fists in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests that have sent shockwaves around the Arab world.
A hard core of tens of thousands of anti-regime protesters had remained at Tahrir Square through the night, angry at the 82-year-old’s refusal to step down immediately in line with the demands of opposition leaders.
Both sides continued throwing rocks and skirmishing into the night, with army and civilian ambulances taking the wounded away.
Anti-regime protesters stopped handing over pro-Mubarak militants to the army as they said they were just being released. Instead, they kept some 30 of those they captured at an improvised prison in a metro station.
The captives were badly beaten, an AFP correspondent reported.
Several foreign journalists have also became the target of violent attacks, a media watchdog and news organisations said, apparently on charges of fuelling the uprising with their coverage.
Correspondents, photographers and cameramen reporting on the fierce clashes in Tahrir Square said that the Mubarak supporters were hostile to the press.
As many as 300 people may have been killed in Egypt’s anti-government unrest which erupted on January 25, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Tuesday.
Security and medical sources in Egypt said on Monday at least 102 people had been killed in clashes between demonstrators and police before policemen were ordered to stand down last weekend.