Pro-Mubarak rioters hurl Molotov Cocktails at opposition
About 500 people injured in recent round of clashes, says al-Arabiya; Egyptian museum goes up in flames; Gov't supporters throw rocks at protesters from buildings, according to reports; gun shots heard at Tahrir square.
By JPOST.COM STAFF, MELANIE LIDMAN, , AP
February 2, 2011 19:38
egypt protest rock throwing 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Pro-government demonstrators in Cairo threw dozens of Molotov cocktails at those protesting against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday.He said he would serve out the rest of his term working "to accomplish
the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power." He said he will
carry out amendments to rules on presidential elections, and vowed not to flee the country.
Numerous explosives were hurled as the pro-regime mob attempted to push through a no-man's land towards the anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square.
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Witnesses at Tahrir Square also said they heard several shots
fired into the air, and water cannons were fired by security officials
to try to calm the protests, according to reports.
Al-Jazeera also reported that the Egyptian museum was fire bombed and that the army was trying to put out the fire.
Protests reportedly also broke out in Alexandria.
Earlier, pro-Mubarak groups also took over
three army vehicles and lobbed rocks and other items at anti-government
protestors from surrounding buildings, amid clashes that have
been raging at Tahrir Square since early Wednesday afternoon, Al-Jazeera
Al-Arabiya reported that about
500 people were injured in the most recent clashes.
Protests in Cairo
turned violent Wednesday, with protesters throwing large
rocks at each other as pro-Mubarak demonstrators tore down anti-Mubarak
have decorated Tahrir Square for three days. Tanks on the periphery of
the square were starting to move in anticipation of unruly crowds.
Live video broadcast by Al Jazeera showed men on camels and
horseback hitting people in the square with whips as they rode through
the crowds. Pro-government protesters continued to flow into the square, according to reports.
Women and children were hiding behind tanks in the
streets as men in suits threw stones at each other. The protests have
not been this violent in nearly a week.
The army was using tear gas to
disperse crowds although later reports said that the military was standing by, allowing clashes to continue. The military has said several times that it has not and will not use force against Egyptian civilians.
in the central Cairo square have been mostly peaceful since Sunday, the
crowds have also been entirely anti-Mubarak until now. Thousands of the Egyptian
president's supporters were streaming into the square Wednesday afternoon waving flags
and giants posters of the 30-year ruler of Egypt.
Israeli journalists were arrested by Egyptian military police in Cairo
on Wednesday. Three of those arrested work for Channel 2 and the fourth
is from Nazareth.
The issue was being dealt with by the Foreign Ministry.
demonstrators were seen forming a human chain in an attempt to keep
Mubarak supporters from reaching Tahrir Square early Wednesday
Pro-government protesters began taking to the streets in the thousands in the morning, hours after Mubarak made a defiant speech
promising to serve out the last months of his term and to "die on Egyptian
On Wednesday morning, the Egyptian military
called for an end to more than a week of demonstrations demanding
Mubarak step down.
"Your message has arrived, your demands became
known," military spokesman Ismail Etman said on state television in an
address directed to young protesters. "You are capable of bringing
normal life to Egypt."
Meanwhile, Thousands of Egyptians gathered in an upscale Cairo boulevard Wednesday to cheer on President Hosni Mubarak in their first mass counter-demonstration after more than a week of calls for him to resign.
Many praised Mubarak for keeping the country at peace after a series of wars with Israel. Others said they felt personally humiliated by anti-Mubarak demonstrators jeering a man they saw as a symbol of the nation.
The mood was angry and defiant but the protest was mostly peaceful, in contrast to the scene in Cairo's main square, where hundreds of young pro-government supporters attacked crowds of thousands demanding his ouster.
On the boulevard in the middle-class, heavily commercial neighborhood of Mohandiseen, men in designer sunglasses and women with expensive hairdos joined government employees, including a few dozen nurses in white dresses and stockings who jumped and chanted, "We love you Mubarak!" Younger men carried portraits of Mubarak and shouted in support. Children painted their faces with the black, white and red colors of the Egyptian flag.
Pro-Mubarak protesters also gathered in other middle-class Cairo neighborhoods and the Nile Delta town of Luxor.
"We have been a stable country since the days of the Pharoahs. These demonstrators want to turn us into Somalia: poor and at war with itself," cried Samir Hamid, a 58-year-old war veteran who said his age made him remember life before Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago. He said he recalled struggling to find bread in the pre-Mubarak years, and the wailing of Egyptian women who lost their sons in wars against Israel.
Mubarak says he will not seek re-election
In his 10-minute televised address
to the nation Tuesday night, the 82-year-old Mubarak appeared somber
but spoke firmly and without an air of defeat. He insisted that even if
the protests demanding his ouster had never broken out, he would not
have sought a sixth term in September.
The step came after heavy pressure from his top ally, the United States. Soon after Mubarak's address, US President Barack Obama said at the White House that he had spoken with Mubarak
and "he recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change
must take place." Obama said he told Mubarak that an orderly transition
must be meaningful and peaceful, must begin now and must include
Mubarak would be the second Arab leader pushed from office by a popular
uprising in the history of the modern Middle East, following the ouster
last month of the president of Tunisia — another North African nation.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report