Protesters start a fire during clashes with army soldiers at the cabinet near Tahrir Square (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has issued a statement regarding the clashes currently taking place outside the Cabinet building in downtown Cairo, stressing that the council’s overriding objective was to “protect the property of the great Egyptian people.”
The statement, released on Sunday in the form of a video, was seen by critics as an attempt to justify the armed forces’ harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters within recent days.
In its statement, the SCAF referred to a “malicious plan” aimed at destabilizing the country.
“Based on the SCAF’s belief in the importance of communicating with the Egyptian people and the youth of the revolution, [we issue this statement]” the declaration reads. “Don’t we have the right to defend the property of the great Egyptian people, which we swore to protect?”
The video goes on to show a host of protesters hurling stones at the Cabinet building and setting parts of it on fire.
The nearby Scientific Centre was also set ablaze on Saturday.
In its first statement on the issue, the SCAF insisted that military personnel had exercised the highest degrees of self-restraint in dealing with protesters.
A number of videos and photographs posted online show military police employing excessive force to disperse protesters in Cairo’s flashpoint Tahrir Square and adjacent streets.