Egyptian Army 'ready to use force' to clear Cairo square

Generals in Egypt threaten crackdown after protesters gather again in Tahrir Square; thousands call for Tantawi's resignation.

Egypt Cairo Army 311 Reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Egypt Cairo Army 311 Reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
CAIRO - Egypt's ruling generals said on Saturday they were ready to use force to end protests in Tahrir Square after troops cracked down on demonstrators overnight and sparked violence that medical sources said killed two people.
Soldiers and police had used tasers and batons to try to drive out protesters from the square, the epicenter of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11. Gunshots echoed across the square in the overnight operation.
RELATED:Two protesters reportedly killed in Egypt's Tahrir SquareProtesters in Tahrir Square pile pressure on army
But hundreds defied the army move and stayed. Thousands more joined them on Saturday, demanding power be handed to civilians and calling for the resignation of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling council.
"Tahrir Square will be emptied of protesters with firmness and force to ensure life goes back to normal," the council's Major General Adel Emarah told a news conference.
The army has become a target for a hard core of protesters who say it is colluding with remnants of Mubarak's network and thwarting calls for a deeper purge of former officials.
"The military council is part and parcel of the corrupt regime. It is made up of heads of the army that have benefited from Mubarak and his 30 years of robbing the Egyptian people," said Abdullah Ahmed, 45, a protester in Tahrir.
Responding to Emarah's remarks, protester Zain Abdel Latif in Tahrir said: "If they use force, we will use force. This isn't Libya, where the army can just attack us."
The protesters' anger was fueled early on Saturday morning when the army tried to clear demonstrators from Tahrir during the 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. After failing to remove all the protesters, troops backed out of the square during the day.