Egypt's Occupy Cabinet protesters attacked

Ahram Online, Friday 16 Dec 2011

After failing to clear the three-week long sit-in by firing rounds in the air, security forces and unidentified assailants attack protesters at the Cabinet offices with stones and projectiles

An injured Egyptian protester shouts following clashes with military police near Cairo's downtown Tahrir, Friday (Photo: AP)

A stone fight erupted early Friday morning between military police and protesters staging a sit-in in front of the Egyptian Cabinet offices. Military police then attacked protesters forcing them to leave Qasr El-Aini street, leaving scores injured. Many protesters have been arrested.

Eyewitnesses told Ahram Online that several unidentified attackers climbed neighbouring buildings around the Cabinet offices in Maglis Al-Shaab Street in downtown Cairo, and began hurling stones and wood panels at the protesters down below.

Most protesters are now in the neighbouring Qasr El-Aini Street in front of the Shura Council (upper parliamentary house). Several activists have since called for a march towards Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the Egyptian revolution to protest the latest attack.

Hundreds of protesters began an open-ended sit-in outside the Cabinet building on 25 November to protest the appointment of Kamal El-Ganzouri as prime minister, preventing the 77-year-old, Mubarak-era politician from gaining entrance to his office.

On Wednesday, 14 December, 60 protesters suffered severe food poisoning – with at least eight being hospitalised – after an unidentified woman distributed Hawawshi (spicy minced meat) sandwiches at the sit-in. Rumours and accusations subsequently spread that the sandwiches had been deliberately contaminated to force the protesters to clear the area.

Earlier today, military police had briefly evacuated the streets from protesters, by firing live ammunition in the air to disperse them.

At the same time, a fire erupted in the Authority for Roads and Bridges on Qasr El-Aini Street near the cabinet. Firemen have since brought the blaze under control.

According to a doctor at the scene, the initial fighting began after a group of protesting Ultras were playing a football match early in the morning in front of the Cabinet building. The ball flew into the building's courtyard. When one of the Ultras, named Aboudy, jumped into the building to try and retrieve the ball, he was brutally beaten by security forces. He is now in Qasr El-Aini Hospital.

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