Police, protesters clash in Cairo; 1 person killed


CAIRO — One person was killed and more than 130
injured, including 32 military police, in a clash Friday with
pro-democracy protesters in downtown Cairo, the Egyptian Health Ministry

It was the worst violence since the start of
parliamentary voting last month, the country’s first elections since
President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February. Egypt has since been
under the authority of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, causing
growing frustration among activists who are demanding a swift handover
to civilian rule.

Witnesses said Friday’s violence began before dawn
when a protester who had been taking part in a sit-in outside Egypt’s
Cabinet was detained and severely beaten.

“One of our fellow activists was called for and
arrested by military police,” said Yasser Waleed, who was taking part in
the sit-in. “Later on we found out that they released him in a state
nearing death. He was taken to (a) hospital and came back in a very bad

Images posted online showed the man, identified as
Aboudi Ibrahim, with his face badly bruised, his eyes swollen shut and
his head wrapped in bandages. The news infuriated the protesters, some
of whom hurled stones and gasoline bombs at military police.

Troops moved in to break up the sit-in, shooting
blank rounds and setting fire to the tents where scores of protesters
had been camped out for three weeks, witnesses said.

The protesters retreated into a road leading to
Tahrir Square, which was the center of the popular uprising that toppled
Mubarak. Troops wielding truncheons repeatedly charged the crowd, which
grew to hundreds as the day wore on, witnesses said. Rocks were also
thrown at the protesters by unidentified assailants on the roof of the
Cabinet headquarters.

“It’s the same old story,” said Ahmed Galal, who
works at a mobile phone shop. “We come for a peaceful sit-in and
eventually they forcibly disperse it. Only a few days ago, the prime
minister said that no peaceful protester will be harmed and now we have
this. … That’s why we don’t trust either the government or SCAF anymore.
This ruling army has to go now.”

Local media and medical sources said at least 18 of
those injured were struck by gunfire. Activists said about 20
demonstrators were briefly detained and beaten. There was no immediate
comment from military authorities.

By Friday night, military police reduced their
presence in the area, but sporadic clashes continued between protesters
and unidentified pro-government counter-protestors, who threw rocks and
gasoline bombs from the roof of the cabinet building. According to state
media, some local residents of the area also confronted protestors in
an attempt to disperse the sit-in.

Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri declined comment on the
violence. But two members of a recently formed advisory council,
created by the military to provide advice on the new constitution, quit
in protest.

Presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei condemned the events and the use of force in comments on his Twitter account.

More than 40 people were killed during days of unrest
ahead of the parliamentary election, but the violence had dissipated as
voting got under way. A third and final round is scheduled for January,
and a presidential election is to be held next year.


©2011 the Los Angeles Times

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