Protesters in Tahrir Square
Photo: AFP

Cairo: 5 dead in bloody clashes

Barrages of gunfire rock Tahrir Square late Wednesday night as Mubarak supporters clash with anti-government protesters, army refrains from intervening. Meanwhile Clinton calls vice president, slams 'shocking' violence

CAIRO – At least five people were killed and hundreds injured overnight Wednesday from live fire in Cairo's Tahrir Square as supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak fired at protesters backing the opposition.


"Most of the casualties were the result of stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks. At dawn today there were gunshots. The real casualties taken to hospital were 836, of which 86 are still in hospital and there are five dead," Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid told state television by telephone.


Al-Arabiya said early Thursday that the army has made arrests following the violence that broke out between pro and anti-government protesters, but did not give a number.


Ynet's reporter in Cairo reported hearing live ammunition fired in Tahrir as tanks and ambulances circulated. He said the shooting went on for around two hours.


"They fired at us many petrol bombs from above the bridge in the northern end of Tahrir Square," one witness told Reuters.


Despite the violence unleashed at them, protesters were adamant and thousands remained standing in the square. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers present did nothing to stop the fire.


Meanwhile, the US called on citizens traveling in Egypt to leave "immediately" by way of Cairo's airport. Early Thursday morning, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Vice President Omar Suleiman to condemn the "shocking" clashes.  

Man wounded in clashes (Photo: AFP)


Clinton told Suleiman that the clashes were "a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations."


"The secretary urged that the government of Egypt hold accountable those who were responsible for violent acts," the State Department added in a statement.


So far, at least seven people have been killed since anti-government protests broke out 10 days ago, and 600 have been injured. But some unauthorized reports place the number of dead in the hundreds and the wounded at around 1,500.


ElBaradei: No hostility towards Israel

Also Wednesday, leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei sought to ease Western fears that a post-Mubarak Egypt could turn against Israel and the United States.


"The hype that once Egypt becomes a democracy, it will become hostile to the US and hostile to Israel... these are the two hypes, and are fictions," ElBaradei told CBS News.


In an interview with CNN Wednesday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani called on Israel to talk to Mubarak and convince him to elect a group of officers, representatives of the protesters, and public officials to establish a new interim government.


Mubarak said on Tuesday he would step down in September, angering protesters who want him to quit immediately and prompting the United States to say change "must begin now".


Many protesters said they would not call off their protests until the 82-year-old president quit and Mubarak backers, throwing petrol bombs, wielding sticks and charging on camels and horses, attacked protesters in Tahrir Square on Wednesday.


Anti-Mubarak demonstrators said the attackers were police in plainclothes. The Interior Ministry denied the accusation, and the government rejected international calls to end violence and begin the transfer of power.


Reuters and AFP contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 02.03.11, 08:25
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