Tahrir Fire 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - Protesters demanding Egypt's ruling generals hand over power
beat back a new police raid to evict them from Cairo's central Tahrir
Square on Monday, witnesses said.
At least 22 people have been
killed and 425 wounded since violence erupted in downtown Cairo three
days ago, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry. Police fired tear
gas and attacked a makeshift field hospital, while protesters broke up
pavements to hurl the chunks of concrete at police.
smoke billowed from a six-storey apartment building near the square and
a woman screamed for help from a top-floor window. Firefighters arrived
but police fired tear gas from a side street at a crowd gathered below,
angering bystanders. Some residents tried to scale the building to
rescue those trapped.
The clashes between government forces and protesters in Cairo and other Egyptian cities have killed at least 12 people
since Saturday in some of the worst violence since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.RELATED:
'Confrontation between Israel, Egypt looms'
Editorial: Gradual democracyEgyptians fret about voting violence after clashes
"There is clearly no going back as you can see this violence cannot be
swept under the table," said Essam Gouda, a protester in Tahrir, who
said two marches were due to converge there by mid-afternoon.
"We aim to control the entry points to the square so that security doesn't block protesters from entering," said Essam.
Tahrir Square was the rallying point for protesters in Cairo when an
18-day uprising toppled Mubarak from three decades of power in February.
With just a week before voting in the first free parliamentary election
in decades, the confrontations have raised concerns about how smooth
voting will be.
Egyptians elect a new parliament in a staggered vote that starts on Nov.
28, but even when the assembly is picked, presidential powers remain
with the army until a presidential poll, which may not happen until late
2012 or early 2013. Protesters want a much swifter transition.
Police backed by army officers fired salvos of gas canisters and charged
demonstrators in the square as darkness fell on Sunday, temporarily
sending protesters fleeing. Demonstrators brandished spent shotgun
cartridges and bullet casings, although police denied using live rounds.
Security forces burned down banners and Internet clips, which could not
be independently checked, showed police beating protesters with sticks,
pulling them by the hair and, in one case, dumping what appeared to be a
corpse on piles of rubbish.
Demonstrators swiftly regrouped in side streets and returned to take
control of the square overnight before police tried again to retake
Tahrir after dawn.
Tantawi the target of protests
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's defense minister for
two decades and who leads the army council, has become a target of
"I don't want Tantawi ... I am staying tonight," said Ayman Ramadan, a data entry employee, said early on Monday morning.
Outside the burning apartment building, protesters chanted: "Tantawi burnt it and here are the revolutionaries!"