Day of Rage Resurrected: Egypt police tear gas martyr’s families, driving 2,000 protesters back to Tahrir

Mohamed El Hebeishy, Wednesday 29 Jun 2011

After a violent night of clashes between police and the families of the martyr's of Egypt's revolution, demonstrators are firming their grip on Tahrir Square, despite the tear gas assault

Mohamed Mahmoud Street on the morning of Wednesday June 29th – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy
Mohamed Mahmoud Street on the morning of Wednesday June 29th – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy

Clashes erupted in front of the MInistry of Interior last night, as well as the Balloon Theatre in Agouza, between the martyrs’ families and police forces. The clashes soon turned violent as police forces assaulted the protestors with tear gas in front of the ministry.

Police forces continued their tear gas salvo in a bid to break the demonstrations up until 7:30 in the morning, when they withdrew from Mohamed Mahmoud Street, where most of last night’s and today’s violence occurred.

The distinct odour of tear gas can still easily smelt before one even enters the street from the direction of Tahrir Square.

At press time the tear gas shelling slowed.

Tear gas canister shells and birdshot bullets can be spotted down Mohamed Mahmoud Street, though there has been no evidence of using rubber bullets or live ammunitions yet.

Egypt’s ministry of interior had issued an official statement earlier yesterday denying any violence in their crackdown on the demonstration.

Though there are no confirmed reports of any fatalities at this stage, there are dozens injured, including Amr Osama, who was  treated in one of the many ambulances made available in Tahrir Square and has now been released.

According to official medical sources, one hospital has 52 injured, 46 of which are police, and another hospital has 8 injured.

It all started Tuesday night, with clashes between families of martyrs and state security forces, some say at the Balloon Theatre. Hundreds of demonstrators also threw stones at the interior ministry of Egypt today in downtown Cairo and accused the police of “killing their sons.”

Security forces cordoned the area and according to eyewitnesses fired tear gas bombs and shots into the air to disperse protesters.

Police chased protesters towards Tahrir square and fired tear gas bombs at thousands of protesters.

A statement released by the interior ministry of Egypt denied that police attacked protesters and claimed they were thugs.

However, Egyptian TV channels Al Hayat and On TV aired live footage of the clashes. Tahrir Square and surrounding downtown streets looked like a battlefield covered with a smoky cloud of tear gas all night through.

Ambulances could be seen rushing into Tahrir Square, as well as volunteer doctors to support the injured in the square.

Thousands of demonstrators rushed in solidarity with protesters in Tahrir Square as violence escalated and chants could be heard "People want the regime to fall," "People want Field Marshal Tantawi out," and "Down with the interior ministry."

The famous, central square, which had witnessed Egypt’s 18-day historic revolution, is currently not open for traffic. Some 2,000 angry demonstrations shouting slogans against the regime, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and brigadier Tantawi himself are in the square. “People want the brigadier to step down,” is the most heard chant in Tahrir Square this morning.

Nonetheless, there are no sign of army vehicles anywhere in Tahrir Square at this point.

The coming few hours will prove critical; will it turn into a sit-in, an all-out clash or will it calm down and Tahrir Square open for traffic?

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