'Death toll rises to 33 in Egypt clashes'

Medical sources say morgue receiving dozens of corpses as police fire tear gas, attack makeshift field hospital in Cairo.

By REUTERS
November 21, 2011 14:57
3 minute read.
Egyptian police stand guard in Tahrir Square

Egyptian police 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Cairo's main morgue at Zainhum hospital has received 33 corpses from those killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, medical sources said on Monday.

The sources, who asked not to be identified, said the morgue had been the main place where the dead were being brought.

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Previously, the Health Ministry had said 22 people were killed, including two on Saturday -- one of whom died in Alexandria. The remaining 20 were killed in violence since Sunday.

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.

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At least 425 people have been 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.

Black 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.




"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 protests.

"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!"

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