At least three people were reported killed and scores more were injured early on Thursday after supporters of President Hosni Mubarack shot at anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, prompting condemnation from around the world.
AFP - Three people were killed in gunfire aimed at anti-regime protesters in Tahrir Square in central Cairo early Thursday, taking the death toll over the last 24 hours to six, a medic said.
"Three people were killed by gunshots in the past three hours," said Dr. Amr Bahaa at a makeshift hospital set up at a mosque near Tahrir (Liberation) Square.
In pictures: Clashes in Cairo
A wounded anti-Mubarak protester is carried to the centre of Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Anti-Mubarak demonstrators seek shelter from rocks being thrown at them by the president’s supporters. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Pro-Mubarak demonstrators run into an alley close to Tahrir Square. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Anti-Mubarak protestors seek shelter behind an army tank. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
An Anti-Mubarak protester throws a rock. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Clashes erupt between both factions. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
The man on the ground was one of several Mubarak supporters on horseback who attempted to charge the crowd. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
A pro-Mubarak supporter on horseback attempts to charge the crowd in Tahrir Square. The demonstrators pulled him from his horse. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
A group of Mubarak supporters are chased out of Tahrir Square. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
A Mubarak supporter with an Egyptian flag shouts at anti-Mubarak protesters from the roof of an army tank at Tahrir Square. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
An anti-Mubarak protester prepares to throw a rock into the crowd. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Pro-Mubarak demonstrators approach Tahrir Square, ready to face off against anti-Mubarak demonstrators. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
An anti-Mubarak protester tells the demonstrators not to back down despite the pressure from Mubarak supporters. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Anti-Mubarak protesters clash with solders that allowed pro-Mubarak protesters to approach Tahrir Square. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Anti-Mubarak demonstrator attempts to calm the crowds. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24)
Thousands of Mubarak supporters enter Tahrir Square, the centre of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE24)
A man holds up a poster of President Hosni Mubarak. (Photo credit : Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE24)
An anti-Mubarak protester pictured in Tahrir Square as tension escalates between the two factions. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE24)
A Mubarak supporter (centre) attempts to enrage the opposition. (Photo credit: Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE24)
"Most of the casualties came in in the last three hours, many with gunshot wounds," he told AFP, putting the total number of wounded since Wednesday at more than 1,000 people.
Witnesses said there were many people hurt by gunfire coming from the October Bridge where partisans of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were positioned.
Egyptian Jurists Alliance said in a statement that anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square were coming under fire and that several had been killed or wounded.
France 24's Nathan King reports from Tahrir Square
The US State Department issued a stark travel warning for citizens in Egypt, urging those who want to leave to "immediately" head for the airport, adding that any delay was "not advisable."
Washington, which has called for restraint since demonstrations broke out 10 days ago, deplored the violence against "peaceful protesters" while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the attacks on demonstrators were "unacceptable."
America's top diplomat Hillary Clinton condemned the "shocking" bloody clashes Wednesday, in a call to Vice President Omar Suleiman.
The State Department said Clinton had called Suleiman, telling him the violence "was a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations."
"The secretary urged that the government of Egypt hold accountable those who were responsible for violent acts," the State Department added in a statement.
"Secretary Clinton also underscored the important role that the Egyptian Armed Forces have played in exercising restraint in the face of peaceful demonstrations and expressed concern that all parties recommit themselves to using only peaceful means of assembly."
The European Union added its voice Wednesday to calls from US President Barack Obama for the transition from Mubarak's three-decade-long rule to begin immediately after the veteran president announced late on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in September.
But the Egyptian foreign ministry said such calls "sought to inflame the internal situation," while Suleiman, who was appointed this week, insisted there could be no dialogue with the opposition until all the protesters went home.
From early afternoon until well into the night, regime supporters and opponents threw stones and battled with sticks and fists in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 10 straight days of protests that have rocked the Egyptian regime and sent shock waves around the Arab world.
Tensions had been rising from early morning when Mubarak supporters began staging their own rallies around Cairo, saying the president represented stability amid growing insecurity, and branding as "traitors" those who want his departure.
EGYPT: THE DAY AFTER THE 'MARCH OF A MILLION'
Witnesses and AFP correspondents said bands of Mubarak supporters raided the square without warning, some on camels or horses, creating mayhem that quickly degenerated into violent clashes.
Regime supporters dropped concrete blocks on the opposition protesters from the roofs and balconies of surrounding buildings.
The worst of the fighting was just outside the world-famous Egyptian Museum, which was targeted by vandals last week.
AFP correspondents saw scores of wounded carried to a makeshift hospital in a mosque near Tahrir Square, and a medic there said the injury toll ran into the hundreds.
Health Minister Ahmed Hosni Farid told state television 639 people were wounded in the clashes in the square on Wednesday.
Both sides continued throwing rocks and skirmishing into the night, with army and civilian ambulances taking the wounded away.
The captives were badly beaten, an AFP correspondent reported.
Several foreign journalists covering the confrontations in Cairo became the target of violent attacks, a media watchdog and news organisations said.
Correspondents, photographers and cameramen reporting on the fierce clashes in Tahrir Square said that the Mubarak supporters were hostile to the press.
Media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the "shocking" attacks appeared to be in revenge for the coverage the protests.
Protesters have said they will proceed with plans for a massive demonstration on Friday, their designated "departure day" for Mubarak.
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the attacks on the protesters were a "direct threat" to the Egyptian people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that there was a battle afoot in Egypt between those who favoured democracy and those who wanted to enforce an Iranian-style radical Islamist system, that could destabilise the key Middle East peace partner "for many years."
Date created : 2011-02-03