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Egyptians protest, defy army bid to disperse them

After a protest by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians during the day Friday, the army surrounded the Tahrir after curfew, set from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., to push out those who remained

Reuters, Saturday 9 Apr 2011
Tahrir Square
Tahrir Square in the early hours of Saturday
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Views: 7841

Hundreds of Egyptians defied soldiers who tried to disperse them overnight from Cairo's Tahrir Square and vowed Saturday to keep protesting until former President Hosni Mubarak was tried and other demands met.

Some demonstrators, angry at the army's use of tasers and batons to try to drive them out of Tahrir, hurled rocks at a burning army bus and truck. Gunshots had echoed around the square during the night as the army sought to clear the area.

After a protest by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians during the day Friday, the army surrounded the Tahrir after curfew, set from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., to push out those who remained.

Saturday morning, hundreds were still left in the rock- strewn square. Protesters showed off casings of live rounds they said were used overnight. One demonstrator pointed to a pool of blood.

Bundles of barbed wire, apparently brought out to use as cordons, lay unused on the ground. There was no sign of the army around the square early Saturday.

"Thank God, we resisted them (the army), and we are still here," said one protester in Tahrir, which was the epicenter of demonstrations that pushed Mubarak out on February 11 after 30 years in office. Egypt is now run by a military council.

Mubarak and his family are banned from leaving Egypt. The former president, 82, is in internal exile in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The military has enjoyed broad support since it took control of the country on February 11, but complaints against its rule are growing. Attention is now focused on the perceived tardiness of legal measures against Mubarak and his entourage.

"We will stay here until Mubarak is brought to trial," said Mahmoud Salama, who works in a tourist agency, speaking in Tahrir.

Speaking overnight from the square, Mohamed Fahmy, 29, said: "They are moving in on us with very aggressive force, I can see people running in every direction."

The sound of gun shots resounded as he spoke. He said they were fired into the air.

"Why is the army beating us? Why is the army firing at us?" chanted protesters overnight, according to one witness.

The military had forcibly dispersed protesters before from Tahrir Square. In that case, the military apologized the next day, saying there had been no order to assault the protesters and called the incident unintentional.

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