Activists detained in Qasr El-Aini Street

Ahmed Feteha, Friday 16 Dec 2011

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Egyptian protesters throw rocks and wave flag at army soldiers near Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square, Egypt, Friday (Photo: AP)

Fighting has stopped for now between protesters and military police in front of the Cabinet offices in downtown Cairo after the former came under attack from the Army.

According to an Ahram Online reporter on the scene, a line of soldiers are blocking any approach to the Cabinet while a group of protesters are being detained in Qasr El-Aini street.

After being held for some time, the detained female protesters were slowly released. Our reporter witnessed several of them wounded and in obvious shock while one was unable to walk and had to be carried.

Activist Nour Ayman Nour, son of possible presidential candidate Ayman Nour, was among those detained in the street. He told Ahram Online that security forces agreed to release all those who are held in the street with the exception of protester Mohamed Magdy, who will be handed over to the Ministry of Interior.

Doctors at the scene told our reporter that most of the wounded brought in so far were injured by stones and rubber bullets. Despite reports on Twitter that live ammunition was used against the protesters, the medics say that they have yet to see any such cases.

Some sections of the Authority of Roads and Bridges building, from where the Army attacked protesters, is burned and several of the windows are broken.

The number of protesters at the scene is at around 200 and a small group held Friday prayers and proceeded to chant against military rule. Several protesters are also taking refuge in side streets.

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.

The attack on the protesters comes a day after the end of voting in the second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections. Although Cairo voted in the first round, the neighbouring Giza governorate was involved in the latest voting.

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