Egyptian protesters evacuate injured 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
CAIRO - The United States said it was worried by violence in Egypt and urged the army rulers to respect human rights as security forces wielding batons and firing teargas fought for a fourth day on Monday with protesters demanding an end to military rule.
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Soldiers, protesters clash for third day in Egypt
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned excessive use of force by security forces in Cairo protests that have widened a rift among Egyptians over the role of the army and cast a shadow over the country's first free election in decades.
Police and soldiers using batons drove stone-throwing protesters out of Cairo's Tahrir Square, hub of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February, during the night but by dawn they had trickled back into the square. Security forces took up positions again behind barricades in nearby streets.
Protesters, who hurled rocks at police, had fled down sidestreets, away
from sensitive areas where parliament, the cabinet offices and Interior
Ministry are located. Security forces used teargas in nearby streets to
drive protesters away.
The violence broke out just after the second stage of a six-week
election for Egypt's new parliament that starts the slow countdown to
the army's return to barracks. The military has pledged to hand power to
an elected president by July.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "deeply concerned"
about the violence and urged the security forces "to respect and protect
the universal rights of all Egyptians."
In a statement to a nation which has received billions of dollars in US
military and other aid, she also called on protesters "to refrain from
acts of violence."
Many Egyptians want to focus on building democratic institutions, not
street activism, but have nevertheless been shocked by the tactics of
security forces in and around Tahrir that have killed 10 people and
Soldiers in riot gear have been filmed beating protesters with batons
even after they have fallen to the ground. A Reuters picture showed two
policemen dragging a woman lying on the street by the shirt, exposing
Protesters said they had seized four soldiers who had been part of formations who launched a charge in the early hours.
"We quickly got the four into vehicles and drove them away from the
square, otherwise they would have been beaten to a pulp by angry
protesters who experienced the army's vicious attacks," said Sayyid Abu
Ella, speaking by telephone from Tahrir.
Late on Sunday, protesters had hurled petrol bombs at lines of security
forces and chanted "Down with Tantawi" a reference to Field Marshal
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi who heads the army council and was Mubarak's
defence minister.Violence overshadowing elections
Ban Ki-moon "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," the UN Secretary-General's office said in a
The violence has overshadowed a staggered parliamentary election that is set to give Islamists the biggest bloc.
The West, which long looked to strongmen in the region like Mubarak to
keep a lid on Islamists, have watched warily as Islamist parties swept
elections in Morocco, Tunisia and now Egypt.
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.
Tough police and army tactics combined with hot-headed youths bent on
keeping up pressure also sparked a flare-up last month that killed 42
A small group of activists approached protesters hurling stones on
Sunday and called on them to stop, but they refused, citing the deaths
of 10 people as a reason not to "negotiate."
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