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Running battles break out in Cairo - mob attacks democracy protest while army watches
north africa | repression / prisoners | news report Thursday February 03, 2011 00:03 by Andrew - WSM
Following the refusal of Mubarak to resign a mob of his supporters attempted to fight their way into Tahir square in Cairo where anti-Mubarak protests demanding democracy have rallied over the last week. Some of the mob who have been captured were carrying police ID's. The intention appears to be to either drive the democracy protesters off the streets and/or create an excuse for army intervention to 'restore stability,' something the official opposition is now calling for. The UN has issued a statement fearing that 300 have been killed and 500 injured, its unclear if this refers just to today's events
Live broadcasts from Al Jazeera indicate that there have been serious injuries including a journalist who has been stabbed. Footage showed the attack opening with men mounted on camels and horses charging into the square and into the line of anti-government protesters that had linked arms with some people being trampled and some attackers pulled off their horses.
There were reports of armed men with the counter revolutionary mob and the mounted mob was reported as re-grouping among a cluster of military tanks on the square after its initial charge. The mob included several uniformed police men and passed through army lines without any attempt by the army to intervene. Al Jazeera is reporting that protesters who fled the initial attack on the square were ambushed in side streets by men armed with sticks and knives.
The democracy demonstrators successfully defended the square without army support, reports indicate that several of the mounted men were pulled from their horses and beaten and that the rest of the mob were forced to retreat by stone throwing. One reporter in the midst of the fighting said there were so many rocks being thrown that they were like 'birds in the sky.' A barricade of trucks was been placed across the road near the Egyptian museum by the mob but then captured by the democracy protests and the square was being defended from behind this barricade - the street fighting moved back and forth across this barrier.
A journalist reported watching 50 men armed with sticks and machetes charging the cordon protecting the square while the army watched. Gunfire was heard, believed to be the army in the Egyptian museum firing warning shots and a large number of children are trapped in the center of the square. The roads leading into the square was defended for several hours before the government mob gained access to the rooftops above the defenders barricades and rained down rocks and molotov cocktails forcing them to retreat into the square as the army stood by and watched. It was only after 5 or more hours of street battles that the army deployed water cannon.
The exact composition of the mob supporting Mubarak is unknown but AP interviewed some of them in a prosperous Cairo suburb and reported that "On the boulevard in the upper-class neighbourhood of Mohandiseen, men in designer sunglasses and women with expensive hairdos joined government employees, including a few dozen nurses in white dresses and stockings who jumped and chanted, "We love you Mubarak!." Other commentators report that those attacking the square include some of the very poor although Police ID cards have been found on a number of those captured. There were claims people had been paid 17$ to take part. Al Jazeera Arabic showed video demonstrating that some of the pro-government mob who have been captured in the fighting are carrying police ID. A caller to AlJazeera said that her husband who works at the Giza Governorate was called yesterday by his employer & ordered to join the Pro Mubarak demonstration. Those captured are then being handed over to the military. The mob were also using at least 3 army vehicles.
The mob chanted slogans against Al Jazeera and accusing those protesting against the regime of ruining Egypt. A section of the mob approached the Hilton hotel at the edge of the square chanting 'where is Al Jazeera' whose reporters are continuing to report from the scene despite repeated government attempts to shut them down. Journalists were being targetted in general by the mob, in one report among many George Hale, English editor of the Maan News Agency, tweeted that "Anderson Cooper punched 10 times in the head as pro-Mubarak mob surrounds him and his crew at Cairo rally - CNN manager."
The protests against Mubarak have been unarmed except for improvised weapons like rocks that can be picked up from the street. In the event of significant armed attacks by the mob or by the military using the excuse of the mob to intervene it appears they will be unable to defend themselves. However the bulk of the army are drawn from the proletarian classes and may well refuse orders, as some did last week, or even decide to intervene against the mob. In any case this decision by Mubarak to mobilise a counter revolutionary mob must result in an escalation of the revolt and the beginnings of self defence, perhaps building on the Neighboorhood committees that came into existence last week.
WORDS: Andrew Flood
More on the Revolt in Egypt
A selection of twitter updates as they come in from the street fighting in Cairo today. We will also include updates and useful links of interest . (Curated by Mark)
14.25 Hundreds more people coming up Qasr al-Aini st. - I think pro-Mubarak people. @arabist http://arabist.net/
14.30 ALEXANDRIA: Anti-Mub demos avoid pro-Mub provocations and march throughout large streets of the city
14.35 Al Jazeera: a movement called the "Free Youth of Egypt" issues call to Egyptian Army to take over control of the country.@SultanAlQassem . Not sure who this group is yet, and is not the April 6th youth network who played such a central role organising the mobilisiation for regime change.
14.35 Gunshots heard near Talaat Harb Square, says @norashalaby
Running stone-throwing battles; eyewitness crying on air as she narrates situation http://tinyurl.com/5ukrq7l
All this for ONE man. Massacres & suppression! He lived in palaces for 30 years but that is not enough for him. He wants to install his son.@SultanAlQassem
What looks like tear gas being fired now. Gee i wonder who has tear gas supplies?!
14:37 Al Jazeera showing footage of a barricade of trucks at the Egyptian museum from behind which the square is being defended
14.40 Try as they might to save Mubarak, BBC & Sky are loosing the narrative & can't deny these thugs are paid agents of the regime. @asa_wire
14.41 I'm not exagerating: the #BBC is actually calling for revolutionaries to leave Tahrir sq. Propaganda mode in full force. @asa_wire
The army has called for all people to disperse by 5pm local (3pm Dublin) time. Thats is very unlikely.
14.40 Watching as evenunfold, rocks flying between the two. Men wielding knives and sticks, machetes.
14.50 @omsafeeya: NDP thugs heading to el baradei's house.
Captured men on both sides are being beaten viciously. Hearing the sound of a taser. Journalist just captured and beaten, finally set free.
14.52 Pro Mubarak mob have climbed high buildings and are firing rocks and molotovs down on the defenders of the square forcing them back. Questions over how they got access to these buildings as they were guarded.
14.56 Revolutionaries still hold the sq. RT @Gsquare86: Marches against Mubarak still going but we NEED MORE !! ... http://yfrog.com/h5osdtrj
14.57 Mubarak's Special Forces in Tahrir Sq قوات الصاعقة http://flic.kr/p/9ezqmH @3arabawy
We are all Khaled Said reporting that
14.58 The Army has proven it's not Egypt's army. It's Mubarak's army.
15.00RT @JulietONeill: RT @allawati Just saw a foreign journalist being chased by a mob with weapons. He was alone. They got him.
15.03 My husband @alaa is now under attack by Mubarak thugs & some ppl dare to ask me to tone it down . @alaa is an egyptian blogger and activist who blogs here (http://www.manalaa.net)
15.03 Interesting tweet from ?? Put’s a different angle (if unconfirmed) outside the narative of ‘simply’ pro Mubarak.... “Some of these pro-Mubarak supporters live day-by-day and can't afford the protests to last longer. “ @ninjafeline
15.02 He's using the oldest trick in the book Divide & Conquer Don't be fooled we won 1 battle peacefully He's tryin2 win the next1
15.03 RT @watergatesummer: RT @ianinegypt: Today is the first day as a journalist, I've feared for my safety. @ArrghPaine http://www.arrghpaine.com
15.04 Sources: Shafiq threatens to resign after Tahrir Square Massacre (unconfirmed as of yet)
At present the army is standing by as they watch people from the popular rising getting attacked by Pro Mubarack forces. People are asking why the army refuses to intervene like they did in Alexandria last night when armed Mubarak supporters tried to attack self organised neighbourhood defense groups. The army have to be fully aware of the movements as state helicopter have been flying around the square constantly over the past few hours
15.06 @ruleforthepeopl In his speech yesterday Mubarak said: history will judge him.Well it's done now:U ARE GUILTY Mr. Mubarak
@BloggerSeif Screaming, crying, injured, burned, they will kill us, I swear we will die. Omfg!
AFP - Organisers pay $17 each to people to join pro-#Mubarak rallies http://tinyurl.com/5ukrq7l There is word from Nick Kristof of The New York Times: "In my part of Tahrir, pro-Mubarak mobs arrived in buses, armed w/ machetes, straight-razors, and clubs. Very menacing."
15.18 @BloggerSeif Screaming, crying, injured, burned, they will kill us, I swear we will die. Omfg!
Video footage of “Pro Mubarak demonstrator” actually being police http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLUiukXNCJA
15.27 Live shots are being fired from the Egyptian Museum and has become a temporary army base. ElBaradei has call for the army to intervene and also for people to hold the Tahrir square until Friday, which is being called by the popular uprising as Departing Friday.
Some of these tweets may seem to be saying very little, but they take on a different perspective when you think that they are from people i Cairo today. Indeed many are currently in Tahrir Sq right now.
5.28 S.O.S. the military, even with people being beaten in front of them, are not getting involved. Mubarak is free to kill
15.30 Protesters are still in the heart of Tahrir Square, protecting themselves through a chain of human shields around! #egypt
15.30 FUCK TONY BLAIR!!! http://bit.ly/hB90Ra
15.33 CNN reporter Ben Wedeman. Just got out of Tahrir. Very ugly. Something is being cooked up here. Tienanmen 2? Is this stability? @bencnn
15.37 Pro Mubarak forces in Tahrir square seen to be currently trying to set fire a building.
15.42 @RuwaydaMustafah Children & women in square blocked in by #Mubarak thugs. International community needs to help PLEASE
15.44@bencnn: The only way out of Tahrir is thru army lines to the right of the mosque next to the Mogamaa. @arabist
15.44This not a counter demonstration, This is a FULL ASSAULT by security forces in PLAIN CLOTHESvia @weddady #Egypt
Reports that up to 500 people have been injured in the square today
Mubarak Leave, we do not choose you, we do not like you, we do not want you
15.46 Good question by @aalmasri “Armed revolt is called terrorism. Peaceful protesters are attacked. What are the arabs to do?
From the Guardian
The Egyptians army refute firing at particpant of the popular uprising
Noam Chomsky: “This Is The Most Remarkable Regional Uprising That I Can Remember. Watch Interview: http://ow.ly/3OTMP
@parvezsharma: Some thugs/killers caught by people say they were paid 100 Egyptian pounds per person from #Mubarak Junta
15.55 By switching on the internet, Mubarak seeks to make violence the face of the revolution http://bit.ly/hiiccZ
15.58 Divide & Conquer theory: where the gov divides the people in two general opinions and they conquer as they watch them burn
15.59 US taxpayers are funding the thugs attacking unarmed children, women and men protesters in Tahrir Square right now.
16.00 Unknown scores of dead and injured in Tahrir Square. No ambulance to get to
Currently as of 16.00 (6pm in Egypt)there is no clear number of injuries or death as a result of the attacks on those assembled in Tahrir Square today. Given the chaotic nature of events, attack on journalists and the state banning of reporters, collating info is quite difficult. Early estimates suggest up to 500 injuries, and scores of deaths.
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