Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mesir makin panas!

Egyptians in the capital
were tense amid fears that
renewed clashes could occur
between pro-democracy
protesters and President Hosni
Mubarak's loyalists in the central
Tahrir [Liberation] Square on
Activists in Cairo confirmed there
were more demonstrators
– from both sides – on their way
to the square, an Al Jazeera
online producer said from the
Car-loads of regime loyalists were
reportedly headed towards
Tahrir Square, the epicentre of
the demonstrations. They
seemed organised and
commanded by ringleaders, Al
Jazeera correspondents
But army tanks had moved into
positions protecting the pro-
democracy protest camp in the
square, in a more visible
display than at Wednesday's
"The army has formed a human
chain in front of the pro-
democracy barricades, keeping
the pro-Mubarak group away,"
our producer said. All but one
entrace to the square is blocked,
he added.
The army told our producer it
had orders not to allow anyone
else into Tahrir Square, and to
separate the pro-Mubarak and
pro-democracy groups.
This comes after heavy gunfire
aimed at pro-democracy
demonstrators left seven people
dead early on Thursday morning,
according to local doctors. The
government puts the figure at
five deaths, but confirmed that
about 800 people have been
Violent clashes began on
Wednesday when Mubarak's
supporters charged into Tahrir
Square, clashing with the pro-
democracy demonstrators
gathered there for days.
Pro-democracy protesters began
to defend themselves as camel
and horse riding men
forcefully barrelled their way into
the square, which had been
peaceful for more than a week. A
bloody clash ensued as the
assailing men used knives, clubs
and other weapons.
Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's prime
minister, apologised for
Wednesday's events, saying there
will be an investigation into the
violence. This comes as the
cabinet denied it played any role
in the attacks against the pro-
democracy demonstrators.
Shafiq also made an offer for
talks with opposition parties.
Although some groups accepted,
Mohamed ElBaradei, the leading
opposition figure rejected the
offer until the demand for
Mubarak to step down was met.
Negotiations are also being held
between Omar Suleiman, Egypt ’s
vice-president, and national
political forces, according to
Egypt's state TV.
Meanwhile, five EU nations -
Britain, France, Gernamy, Italy
and Spain - released a joint
statement urging an immediate
political transition to end the
violent unrest.
Fresh chants
On Thursday, the tenth day of
protests, pro-democracy
demonstrators in the square
deviated from their regular
chants calling for Mubarak to
step down, and began to call for
him to face the capital
punishment, for what they say is
a "murderous regime."
Some pro-democracy
demonstrators called on their
fellow protesters to cease
clashing with pro-regime
opponents, following the earlier
bloody confrontations. But
activists in Cairo confirmed pro-
democracy protesters would
again attend demonstrations on
"There's not really anyone
organising [Thursday's anti-
Mubarak demonstration], but I've
spoken to several people who
are bringing groups of
protesters with them," an activist
called Karima told our producer.
While the pro-democracy camp
seems to be a collection of
individuals without a leader or
any clear direction, Al Jazeera
correspondents on the ground
report that the regime loyalists
had more guidance during
Wednesday's clashes, with
officers even directing them on
the ground.
Army Arrests
Our online producer in
Cairo visited an ad hoc 'prison'
where on Wednesday, pro-
democracy protesters had
captured around six Mubarak
The Egyptian army, widely
praised for its restraint but
chastised for not protecting
peaceful protesters under assault
on Wednesday, reportedly also
arrested several people after a
hail of gunfire was heard in the
square early on Thursday.
It was not, however, confirmed
which side of the Mubarak divide
the army arrested from.
On Thursday, sixty-two Egyptian
human rights organisations
warned against internal violence
in Egypt due to President
Mubarak ’s insistence to stay in
The group called for the need for
military intervention to protect
the protesters, and a withdrawal
of what they described as abuses
by thugs and gunmen from the
They added that they were
suspicious of the seriousness of
Mubarak's pledge to not seek re-
election when his term expires in
September, since this coincided
with the attacks on
demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

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