Protesters renew clashes with police in Tahrir Square

Clashes are first such in weeks at Cairo square, began as event honoring "martyrs" of uprising; at least 2 civilians, 41 cops hurt.

June 29, 2011 11:36
2 minute read.
Clashes at Cairo's Tahrir Square

Clashes at Cairo's Tahrir Square 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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It was the first such violence in weeks in Tahrir Square, the center of the revolt that led to Mubarak being toppled. Police in riot gear and with shields blocked protesters from marching towards the ministry.

Ambulance workers treated people mostly for inhaling tear gas. A Reuters correspondent saw several people with minor wounds, including some with cuts on their heads.

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"The people are angry that the court cases against top officials keep getting delayed," Ahmed Abdel Hamid, 26, a bakery employee, said at the scene. He clutched stones in his hands.

He said police clashed with some of those gathered at the event to honor the "martyrs", as those killed in the uprising are called. This prompted protesters to move to Tahrir.

"The people want the fall of the regime," some chanted.

Others called for Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council now ruling Egypt, to step down.

The ministry said in a statement that a group of people had been stopped from joining the event at a theater to honor the "martyrs" and had tried to barge their way in, prompting the police to intervene. The group later moved to Tahrir Square.

'Protests have no justification'

The ruling military council said in a statement on its Facebook page that the events "had no justification other than to shake Egypt's safety and security in an organized plan that exploits the blood of the revolution's martyrs and to sow division between the people and the security apparatus."

Clashes continued into the morning.

At dawn, dozens of riot police trucks that had been parked near the square withdrew from the area. A police cordon around the Interior Ministry remained in place.

Young men, many stripped to the waist, were still hurling stones at police near the ministry as commuters went to work. Police fired more teargas. Some ordinary Egyptians said those involved were bent on battling police rather than protesting.

Political activists who have helped organize other recent protests in Tahrir said the angry scenes on Tuesday evening and early Wednesday were not part of any planned protest.

Streets were strewn with stones and bricks. One motorbike near the square was spewing black smoke after being set alight. A hospital in nearby Munira received two civilians and 41 policemen with wounds, bruises and teargas inhalation, the state news agency said. All were discharged except one civilian with a bullet wound and a policeman with concussion, the agency said.

Egypt's former interior minister, Habib al-Adli, has been sentenced to jail for corruption but he and other officials are still being tried on charges related to killing protesters. Police vehicles were stoned by protesters at Sunday's hearing.

Police used batons, teargas, water cannon and live ammunition against protesters in the first days of the 18-day uprising before they were ordered off the streets and the army moved in. Mubarak then handed power to an army council.

The former president, now hospitalized, has also been charged with killing protesters and could face the death penalty. Mubarak's trial starts on Aug. 3.

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