Clashes continue in Egypt, 4 dead
Anger at the military regime and failure of security forces to prevent the death of 74 football fans in Port Said disaster fuels protests and clashes throughout Friday
Salma Shukrallah, Ayman Farag, Friday 3 Feb 2012
Four people were killed in Egypt Thursday night during ongoing clashes with Central Security Forces (CSF) after demonstrations were staged across the country earlier in the day against the military regime. Two protesters were killed in the port city of Suez after security forces used live rounds while defending a police station, reports Reuters.
In Cairo, a protester, Ali Hassan Makhlouf, died from pellet wounds sustained outside the Ministry of Interior.
The assistant health minister, Adel El-Adawy, announced that an army officer was killed after being run over by a military truck.
The death of 74 football fans in Port Said Wednesday brought thousands of Ultras Ahlawy – hard-core Ahly fans – and other protesters out on to streets, demanding justice for the dead and Egypt's military rulers to step down.
In downtown Cairo on Friday morning thousands continued to surround the Ministry of Interior building on Mansour Street, the destination of marches Thursday and site of clashes in which one protester was killed by a pellet shot and 1,482 injured during the night. Most of the injuries appear to be a result of tear gas inhalation, but pellets and the sound of rubber bullets have been reported.
In the adjacent Tahrir Square, the scene was dominated ahead of Friday prayers by around 1,000 protesters gathered on the corner with Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Waving the flags of bitter rivals Ahly and Zamalek football clubs, the protesters are chanting against the military council and for justice for those who have died.
The wall leading into Mohamed Mahmoud Street from Tahrir, erected by the military to stop clashes in November between CSF and protesters in which over 40 people died, has been torn down completely during the night.
Spontaneous marches toured the square in the morning, picking up steam for the day ahead.
The sound of shots and ambulance sirens ferrying the injured to nearby field hospitals filled the air until Friday prayers gave an opportunity for an uneasy truce between both sides. In Mansour Street, where fighting was continuing until half an hour before the prayers, security forces retreated towards the ministry and protesters took to the street to pray.
As soon as the prayers ended, security forces fired tear gas cannisters at the protesters in Mansour Street and Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
In Mostafa Mahmoud Square in the Cairo district of Mohandiseen, where several thousand protesters have gathered to march to Tahrir, chants for an end to military rule erupted as soon as prayers ended.
"Seventy five youths dead, the military council are thugs," chant the protesters in unison.
The march set off at 1:30pm for Tahrir, with protesters starting to enter the square at around 4pm. One of those who took part is Dr. Ranya El-Sobhy, an ophthalmologist at Qasr El-Aini Hospital in downtown Cairo and part of Eye Doctors for the Revolution group.
According to Dr. El-Sobhy, her department received 14 cases of ruptured globes Thursday night caused by rubber bullets. Another four cases were admitted to the International Eye Hospital in Cairo.
"They have to stop using these bullets," she said, adding that she was up all night treating patients.
To highlight that the Port Said disaster was not a football riot, one large banner reads: "This is not a football fight but a massacre of the Ultras."
Ahly and Zamalek's Ultra groups played a prominent role in defending Tahrir Square during the 18-day uprising against the Mubarak regime. Since then they have been regular presences on the frontlines whenever security forces have attacked protesters. Many attribute the deaths of so many Ahly Ultras Wednesday night to their prominence in protecting and fighting for the revolution.
Other marches are planned to Tahrir from the Ahly Sporting Club in Zamalek and the Shubra district, which was organised by the April 6 Youth Movement, Revolution Youth Coalition and Maspero Youth group, among other forces.