Egypt PM apologizes for attack on anti-Mubarak crowd

Shafik calls violence by pro-Mubarak demonstrators a "blatant mistake," promises to investigate "who was behind it."

bloody egypt protester 311 (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
bloody egypt protester 311
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik on Thursday apologized for the attack by regime supporters on anti-government protesters in central Cairo, vowing to investigate who was behind it.
The protesters have accused the regime of sending a force of paid thugs and policemen in civilian clothes to attack them with rocks, sticks and firebombs to crush their movement to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
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Shafik told state TV, "I offer my apology for everything that happened yesterday because it's neither logical nor rational."
The public apology from a top government official was highly unusual. Shafik called the attack a "blatant mistake" and promised to investigate "so everyone knows who was behind it."
On Wednesday, pro-Mubarak demonstrators told The Jerusalem Post that they were not sent by the government.
When asked about claims by many in the opposition that they were being paid by Mubarak to come out and rally in the president’s favor, the crowd became hostile, shouting in English and Arabic that they are poor, and saying they have never received a dime.
The pro-Mubarak crowds have also been accused of being police in civilian clothing, sent in to crush the demonstrations, a claim they also denied. It has also been reported that many of them were bussed in from Cairo’s slums.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.