News24

Battle of Tahrir Square rages in Cairo

2011-02-02 22:29

Cairo - They are covered in blood, but they keep returning to what they call "the front", where their fellow anti-government protesters battle regime supporters for control of Cairo's Tahrir Square, witnesses say.

Chaos consumed the symbolic gathering space on Wednesday as supporters of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak clashed with opposition protesters in running battles that have left at least 610 people injured and one dead.

Two Molotov cocktails thrown by pro-regime supporters land inside the grounds of the famous Egyptian museum, where they are swiftly put out, as the army fires warning shots into the air filled with rocks thrown by protesters.

"To the museum, to the museum", one man shouts into a megaphone, directing some of the anti-government protesters, who have spent nine days trying to oust Mubarak, to move closer to Egypt's world famous antiquities museum.

From there they launch a barrage of rocks towards regime supporters who have attacked them relentlessly since marching into the square on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mubarak partisans, who earlier charged their targets on camel and horseback, drop concrete blocks onto the crowd from above, and each side wields whatever weapons it has: rocks, batons, iron bars and daggers.

Nurse Aisha Hussein said hundreds of people were being treated for broken bones or gashes requiring stitches at a makeshift clinic in a mosque just off the square.

Blood everywhere

She described a scene of "absolute mayhem", as protesters flooded into the clinic.

"It looks like an abattoir in here," she said. "There's blood everywhere."

Nearby, anti-Mubarak protesters shatter pieces of pavement, breaking them down into pieces that can be carried to "the front" in bags, and then thrown at regime supporters.

A mother, caught in the melee with her children, leaves them in the care of another woman temporarily, so she can take her turn carrying projectiles to the demonstrators.

Mustapha al-Shorbagy, 60, said the actions of Mubarak's supporters showed the president's true colours.

"We've been here since Friday; the blood of more than 100 people has been spilled! And who is responsible? It's the president. How can he set Egyptians one against another? This is not a president, this is a devil!"

After unprecedented protests seeking to end his 30 years of rule, Mubarak announced on Tuesday he would not stand for re-election in September, and pledged to ease the conditions for presidential candidacy.

Clashes orchestrated

But he has not indicated any plans to step down immediately, the key demand of the anti-government protesters locked in bloody clashes with Mubarak's supporters on Wednesday night.

Mubarak's opponents accused the leader's National Democratic Party (NDP) of orchestrating the clashes and showed an AFP reporter four party membership cards they said were taken from demonstrators who began attacking people.

"The pro-Mubarak NDP and the secret police dressed in plain clothes, they invaded the place to get rid of the revolt," protester Mohammed Zomor, 63, told AFP.

The Interior Ministry denied plain-clothes police had entered the square, state news agency MENA said, but the opposition insisted that police had stormed the area, and there were fears that more would move in after dark.

"Members of security forces dressed in plain clothes and a number of thugs have stormed Tahrir Square," three opposition groups said in a statement.

Near the Egyptian Museum, tanks sit with their drivers sealed inside as stones thrown by protesters bounce off their armour and ricochet overhead. Some crew emerge briefly, holding pieces of cardboard as defence against the projectiles.

Nearby, young boys tap out a rhythm with all their might on metal structures "to scare the enemy", they say.

Nureddine Najeh, 25, assessed the violence of Mubarak's supporters as a sign of his weakness.

"He paid these people to attack us," he told AFP. "It's Mubarak's last card. Little by little he is losing control of everything."

Several thousand people remained in the square nearly five hours after sunset, as both sides continued throwing rocks and skirmishing and with army and civilian ambulances coming to take the wounded away.

Comments
  • veld66 - 2011-02-02 23:22

    It looked like medieval battle earlier, man on horse and carmel back charging forward to engage in battle! the story goes on.......

  • Just Me - 2011-02-02 23:23

    Power to the people - beware!

  • Incognito - 2011-02-02 23:37

    Power to the people! I wish our neighbours could be inspired to chase their lunatic leaders out of town. That old man doesn't seem to give a S%$& for his countrymen. I am so proud of what these people and how united and determined they are in pursuing their goal. Let the truth prevail. We should start doing the same with some of the idiots occupying office in SA that stand in the way of progress. What will be our pain-threshold down here?

      The_Truth - 2011-02-03 06:20

      You ask about pain-threshhold. We must not forget that a lot of the cadres are "war/struggle veterans" so it's high

      Matlose - 2011-02-03 07:49

      Incognito, I agree with you 100%, we need to get rid of the corrupt officials that are enriching themselves at the expense of the poor especially in Limpopo Province where most of the office bearers are super-rich; especially the first citizen in that province. Maybe we need to call upon 500 000 men march and get rid of the selfish and super corrupt officials.

  • veld66 - 2011-02-03 01:26

    This thing should spread across the world where people are not free....power to the people

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-02-03 05:03

    Scum Mubarrak and his paid mob. No to Dictators. America needs to be strong and push for Mubarrak to stand down and not bow to Zionist pressure which basically is one of the strongest voices in America. illionaire Zuckerberg on Hardtalk admitted American right wing Jews were not Americans and did not have the same goals of the country they live in. This must be done now to stop those nutter brotherhood fundamentalists taking control in the chaos. My fear is the death squads from either Iran or Israel getting involoved in assisnating policical contenders and we end up with another Pakistan.

      Zanu - 2011-02-03 06:25

      out of 80million ppl... only 200thousand protest against Mubarrak. I think evr1 here does not realise that Mubarrak,(as much as he is hated) also has allot of support. 80million people... don’t you forget it. I am not pro-Mubarrak... but it seems alot of Egyptians are... and the "better the devil you know" theory is now coming to play. Good Luck Egypt... now more than ever, may God bless you.

  • The_Truth - 2011-02-03 05:48

    Beware ANC. Your time is coming. Remember the masses here are babrabrian like

  • Hungwe - 2011-02-03 05:52

    I hope Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his cronies; Chiwenga, Phiri and the other murdering thugs are watching, their time will come, ANC, SADC and AU support or not - power to the people.

      Mike - 2011-02-03 07:14

      people just talk and talk here why dont people in S.A. do the same as Egypt,

  • Paul - 2011-02-03 07:16

    Last night I was watching CNN, more to see the hurricane, which did not feature. The scenes were stunning. Another wonderful example of Africans sorting out African problems the African way. Egypt was a beacon of African hope and its been reduced to a bloody riot. I cannot think of one african country, and I have been to a lot of them , that is not a complete hell hole.

      Fazil - 2011-02-03 08:24

      Would you prefer an Iraqi style invasion so that it has all the visual and sound effects to go with your entertainmnet at meal times?

  • sipho - 2011-02-03 08:03

    We would never allow this in our country. We would send the army in and crush those people. They have no respect for their leaders. It would be over quickly and not so much newpaper fodder.

      pikejuan - 2011-02-03 08:16

      what army? if you dont know what you are talking about, just dont talk please.

  • Buddha Harvanna - 2011-02-03 08:18

    It is said that all man-kind will work towards their own destruction; we are corporate and industrial slaves today, we work so hard to impress make good out of the bad we create through our participation in a working environment thus giving more and more power to those who are our "bosses" only so they could use it against us, in such that even if we are to revolt, our strength would deplete before we make any progress. Now that's how you, or anybody out there (in or not in a business / entrepreneural venture of some sort)would go about create your own dependent-slaves! But the turn is when people realise and learn that conventional thought and believe in ideas of being a corporate and industrial's self-enslaved individual, now meaning there will be countless questions posed to these engagements... Would it NOT be the RIGHT TIME to fight NOW, or maybe have WE WASTED all the resources by EMPOWERING our OPPRESSORS (emploers and bosses)with!

      sipho - 2011-02-03 11:02

      AT last...a bit of sense! We really need to rethink our so-called civilisations. We need to move to a higher level of thinking if we are to survive and to save the environment.

  • nani mane - 2011-02-03 09:44

    africa is cursed i swear we wont eva get wat e fight for

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