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Violence Escalates Between Mubarak Supporters, Opponents in Cairo


Pro-government demonstrators, below, and anti-government demonstrators, above, clash in Tahrir Square, the center of anti-government demonstrations, in Cairo, Egypt, February 2, 2011

Pro-government demonstrators, below, and anti-government demonstrators, above, clash in Tahrir Square, the center of anti-government demonstrations, in Cairo, Egypt, February 2, 2011

Violence escalated in Cairo's Tahrir Square Wednesday as supporters of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak clashed with protesters who have been calling for the president to step down.

Reporters at the scene say Egyptian troops have fired warning shots in a bid to end the clashes that have left several people trampled and bleeding.

Opponents and supporters of Mr. Mubarak fought with stones, fists and clubs while people on camels and horses charged through the crowds.

Army vehicles were seen trying to separate the clashing demonstrators.

Anti-government protesters are blaming undercover police for the clashes. Pro-democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei told the BBC Wednesday that the government is using "scare tactics" and he feared the clashes would turn into a "bloodbath."

However, state television is reporting that the Interior Ministry denies plainclothes police officers were involved in the violence.

Opposition groups, including the country's powerful but officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, have refused to negotiate with the government before Mr. Mubarak leaves office.

They have called for widespread demonstrations on Friday to press for Mr. Mubarak's departure.

Mr. Mubarak announced late Tuesday he will not seek reelection in September, but he vowed to serve out his term until then.

He spoke at the end of a day when an estimated 250,000 people flooded Tahrir Square to demand his resignation. Anti-Mubarak protesters also rallied in other major Egyptian cities.

ElBaradei told the U.S. television network CNN that Mr. Mubarak's decision to remain in power will extend Egypt's "agony" until presidential elections planned for September. He called the move an "act of deception" from someone who "does not want to let go."

Egypt's military urged demonstrators Wednesday to return to their normal lives, saying their message has been heard and their demands have become known.

Internet service began returning to the country Wednesday after days of an unprecedented cutoff.

The 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak has been president of Egypt for nearly 30 years.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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