Clashes have broken out in Cairo between supporters and opponents of embattled President Hosni Mubarak. The clashes began after the army called on anti-government demonstrators to end their protests, now in their eighth day.
Crowds of supporters of Mubarak marched into Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the unprecedented anti-government protests that have swept Egypt over the past week.
Thousands of demonstrators had been camping there, saying they would not move until President Mubarak steps down and leaves the country.
A number of people were injured as demonstrators from both sides attacked each other with sticks and rocks. Soldiers on tanks stood by and watched. Smoke rose from downtown Cairo, and sporadic bursts of gunfire could be heard.
Pro-government demonstrators, below, clash with anti-government demonstrators, above, as an Egyptian Army soldier on the rooftop of the Egyptian Museum observes the scene in Tahrir square, in Cairo, February 02, 2011.Earlier, the army had told anti-government demonstrators they had made their point and called on them to end their protests, a day after Mubarak announced he would not run for re-election.
Mubarak supporters who gathered Wednesday want the 82-year-old leader who has ruled Egypt for 30 years to stay.
This man, an electrician, says he fears a sudden departure of the president will be dangerous to the country.
He said people will "eat each other." He says he does not want Mr. Mubarak to leave.
But the chaos that he and other supporters dread is already present on Cairo's streets, and there is no sign of an end to the unrest.
Rather than appeasing them, Mubarak's announcement Tuesday night fueled anger among anti-government demonstrators, who accuse him of playing tricks. This student, speaking near Tahrir Square, said she wants Mubarak to leave now.
"He must end this. He must cease this. I'm 20 years old, and I'm a student from the faculty of fine arts," she said. "And I've spent my entire life under this emergency law [he imposed in 1981]. This is stupid. He must end this. We need our life. We need our freedom. We are not goats and sheep."
After more than a week of protests, it is as unclear as ever whether Mubarak will be ousted, or leave on his own terms. For now, the battle between those who want him to leave and those who want him to stay is being fought on the streets.
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