Egyptian soldiers beat a protester in Tahrir 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)
Both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Sunday excessive use of
force by Egypt's security forces after three days of battles with
protesters demanding an end to military rule imposed since Hosni Mubarak
was toppled in February.
Egypt's Brotherhood says it took 40% in latest vote
Soldiers, protesters clash for third day in Egypt
"I am deeply concerned about the continuing reports of violence in Egypt. I urge Egyptian security forces to respect and protect the universal rights of all Egyptians, including the rights to peaceful free expression and assembly," Clinton said in a statement.
Earlier, Ban's office release a statement saying that the UN Secretary-General is, "highly alarmed by the excessive use of
force employed by the security forces against protesters, and calls for
the transitional authorities to act with restraint and uphold human
rights, including the right to peaceful protest."
Soldiers baton-charged demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday a day after street clashes killed eight people and wounded more than 300.
Clinton also called on Egyptian authorities to hold accountable those, including security forces, who violate the rights of demonstrators.
"Those who are protesting should do so peacefully and refrain from acts of violence. Our thoughts are with the families of those who have been killed or injured," Clinton said.
Cairo's Tahrir square - hub of the
uprising that ousted Mubarak - has again been convulsed by violence as
protesters demand the generals who took charge in February quit power.
At least 10 people have died in the past three days.
with Tantawi," about 1,000 protesters chanted late on Sunday, referring
to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi who heads the army council and
who was Mubarak's defense minister.
Some youths had earlier
hurled rocks and petrol bombs at lines of security forces. Riot police
appeared to have moved to the front line instead of soldiers.
Troops in riot gear have been filmed in recent days beating protesters
with long sticks even after they had fallen to the ground. A Reuters
picture showed two soldiers dragging a woman lying on the ground by her
shirt, exposing her underwear.
The violence has overshadowed a staggered parliamentary election, the
first free vote most Egyptians can remember, that is set to give
Islamists the biggest bloc.
Some Egyptians are enraged by the army's behavior. Others want to focus on voting, not street protests.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will retain power even
after the lower house vote is completed in January, but has pledged to
hand over to an elected president by July.
Hundreds of protesters were in Tahrir on Sunday, although traffic was
flowing through the square coming from streets not blocked and away from
the violence. Most of the clashes have been in streets leading off the
square.Bouts of violence
One group of activists approached those hurling stones to urge them to
stop, but they refused, citing the deaths of 10 people as a reason not
to "negotiate." Other activists handed over to the army people they said
were making petrol bombs.
A hard core of activists have camped in Tahrir since a protest against
army rule on Nov. 18 that was sparked by the army-backed cabinet's
proposals to permanently shield the military from civilian oversight in
the new constitution.
Bouts of violence since then, including a flare-up last month that
killed 42 people, have deepened frustrations of many other Egyptians,
who want an end to protests. They see the military as the only force
capable of restoring stability.
"There are people who wait for any problem and seek to amplify it ...
The clashes won't stop. There are street children who found shelter in
Tahrir," said Ali el-Nubi, a postal worker, adding the army should have
managed the transition better.
Reuters television footage showed one soldier in a line of charging
troops firing a shot at fleeing protesters on Saturday, though it was
not clear whether he was using live rounds.
The army said it does not use live ammunition. It has also said troops had tackled only "thugs," not protesters.
A building near Tahrir with historic archives was gutted on Saturday by a
fire. Some people tried to gather up any remaining, partially charred
documents to save them.
The Health Ministry said 10 people had been killed in the violence since
Friday and 505 were wounded, of which 384 had been taken to hospital.
Most of the deaths happened on Friday or early Saturday. No deaths were
reported on Sunday.
The latest bloodshed began after the second round of voting last week
for parliament's lower house. The staggered election began on Nov. 28
and will end with a run-off vote on Jan. 11.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties repressed in the 30-year Mubarak era have emerged as strong front-runners.