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Cairo: Clashes rage in Tahrir Square

February 2, 2011

According to witnesses, the military allowed thousands of pro-Mubarak supporters, armed with sticks and knives, to enter the square. Opposition groups told that Mubarak had sent in thugs to suppress anti-government protests.

Al Jazeera reported that the army seemed to be standing by and is facilitating the clashes. Latest reports suggest that the centre of the square is still in control of the protesters, despite the pro-Mubarak supporters gaining ground.

Another Al Jazeera correspondent said, men on horseback and camels had ploughed into the crowds, as army personnel stood by. At least six riders were dragged from their animals, beaten with sticks by the protesters and taken away with blood streaming down their faces.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton reported, that security guards have been seen amongst the pro-Mubarak supporters, and it may be a precursor to the feared riot police arriving on the scene. The opposition also claimed, that many among the pro-Mubarak crowd were policemen in plain clothes. There are reports that officials are paying 17 US$ to people who are willing to take part in the pro-Mubarak rally.

A Cairo resident told Al Jazeera that he witnessed police officers trying to bribe porters and security guards in his apartment building. They were asked to go and beat up anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian TV made a repeated announcement: “You have to evacuate Tahrir Square immediately. We have got confirmed information that violent groups are heading toward Tahrir Square carrying firebombs and seeking to burn the Square.”

Ambulances have not been able to reach the wounded anti-government protesters in the Square. There are hundreds of people with serious injuries. Egypt’s Health Ministry says that until now 13 people were killed and 1,200 injured in the clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators.

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The International Network for Rights and Development has claimed that Israeli logistical support has been sent to President Mubarak to help his regime confront demonstrations. Three Israeli planes shall have landed at Cairo’s Mina International Airport on Saturday carrying equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds.

The airplanes were carrying an abundant supply of internationally proscribed gas to disperse unwanted crowds. If the reports are accurate, this suggests that the regime is preparing to defense its position, despite the country sinking into chaos.

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Pro-democracy protesters will have to focus on Omar Suleiman, who is the likely successor and the choice of the USA.
Suleiman was Minister without Portfolio and Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), the national intelligence agency, from 1993 to 2011. He supervised the systematic torture on male and female detainees, many of whom were never charged or convicted of any crimes, often at the request of the CIA (he was the C.I.A.’s point man for extra-legal renditions). Suleiman has blamed “certain friendly nations who have television channels” (Qatar, Al Jazeera) for the unrest and described foreign journalists as enemies of the state.

Middle East coverage on this blog until now:

Lucky Again
Am I an Anti-Semite now?
Prison guards under siege
Prison guards under siege (follow up)
Prison guards under siege (follow up 2)

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