reverberated across the Egyptian capital as pitched battles
between government supporters and protesters demanding the ouster
of President Hosni Mubarak continued through the night and well
into Thursday, killing at least five people and wounding more than
800. While the president showed no signs of giving in, his Prime
Minister Ahmad Shafik offered his apologies.
Chaos reigned at Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising to
oust Mubarak's 30-year rule, as bursts of gunfire and stray
bullets felled two people, taking the toll of the
Wednesday-Thursday clashes to five and fuelling anger among the
demonstrators in this city of 18 million.
Mubarak, who became president in 1981, has refused to quit, saying
he would step down only at the end of his term in September.
However, Prime Minister Ahmad Shafik offered "apologies" over the
clashes and promised that offenders would be held accountable,
Xinhua reported citing state TV.
An Egyptian minister was reported as saying that the number of
injured had reached 829, including 200 people who were injured
Despite the prime minister's apology, the anger spiralled with
protesters refusing to be cowed down and determined to retaliate.
Witnesses said the two latest victims were anti-Mubarak protesters
who died from gunshot wounds. Amongst them was Taha Mohamed Kamel,
DPA quoted his distraught daughter, Abir, as blaming pro-Mubarak
protesters for her father's death and calling them "traitors".
As the wounded cried out in pain, they were rushed to a makeshift
clinic in a mosque near Tahrir square.
Salma Eltarzi, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera there
were many wounded people. "There are no ambulances in sight, and
all we are using is Dettol," she said.
"We are all so scared."
Aisha Hussein, a nurse, said dozens of people were being treated
at the makeshift clinic.
"People are coming in with multiple wounds. All kinds of
contusions. We had one guy who needed stitches in two places on
his face. Some have broken bones," she was quoted as saying.
Television showed footage of tanks trundling towards Tahrir
Square, but the military has not yet directly intervened between
At one point, the violence spilled out from the square to an area
near the Egyptian Museum that has a huge collection of valuable
The clashes took place after the pro-Mubarak supporters - some of
them on horses and camels - plunged into the protesters and lashed
out with sticks Wednesday. Anti-Mubarak supporters initially
retreated but came back in force and surrounded some of the
horsemen and pulled them down from their steeds. The horsemen were
Belal Mohamed Abdullah, who said he had escaped from the police
station in Basateen as it was being set on fire during the unrest,
claimed that he was later promised 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($850) if
anti-Mubarak protesters were pushed out of Tahrir Square. He was
also told by security that any charges pending against him would
be dropped, he said.
"I was asked to go and remove the people sitting in Tahrir
Square," he told DPA. He spoke via the mobile phone of a protester
who had subsequently detained him.
The anti-Mubarak protesters continued to remain defiant in the
face of the attacks mounted on them as their protest entered the
Former head of IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei accused Mubarak of resorting
to scare tactics.
"I'm extremely concerned, I mean this is yet another symptom, or
another indication, of a criminal regime using criminal acts,"
said the Nobel laureate.
"The army has failed in its commitment to protect peaceful
protesters. The fact that such violence is allowed to continue as
they stand there begs the question whether they have orders not to
interfere," AKI quoted Amnesty International's deputy director of
the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, as
But Egypt has rejected international calls, including from US
President Barack Obama, for the transfer of power.
"What foreign parties are saying about 'a period of transition
beginning immediately' in Egypt is rejected," foreign ministry
spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement, asserting that such
calls "sought to inflame the internal situation in Egypt".