Solidarity marches join Maspero sit-in following clashes

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Sunday 29 Jan 2012

Protesters' numbers increase at Maspero sit-in after activists are attacked by unknown assailants on Sunday, leaving at least one injured

An Egyptian protestor displays a shoe decorated with pictures of Egypt
An Egyptian protestor displays a shoe decorated with pictures of Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak and other members of his government, during a protest outside the state television building in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. (Photo by: AP)

The number of protesters outside the State Television building in Cairo’s Maspero district increased Sunday evening following limited clashes between activists opposed to military rule and unidentified individuals.

A protest march from nearby Tahrir Square reportedly joined the ongoing Maspero sit-in after a group of men in plainclothes attacked activists on Sunday afternoon. A second solidarity march is scheduled to set out for Maspero from Mohamed Mahmoud Street, adjacent to the flashpoint square, at 7pm.

Limited clashes at Maspero, confined largely to rock-throwing, resulted in the injury of at least ten protesters. The attackers used light weapons, including stones and glass bottles, against protesters, who responded by hurling stones.

Police and military forces tasked with securing the State Television building looked on but did not get involved.

Three protesters were taken to a nearby hospital to receive medical attention.

At one point, gunfire could be heard in the area, although the source of the shots remains unconfirmed.

At one point, a group of protesters seized one of the assailants, temporarily detaining him. Another group of protesters surrounded a police officer standing outside the television building, loudly accusing the police of employing thugs to break up the sit-in.

After the attackers retreated, protesters set out to secure the areas from which the assailants were thought to have come, near Abdel Moneim Riyad Square and streets adjacent to the foreign ministry.

Residents of the working-class district of Boulaq Abou El-Ela, who were first believed by protesters to have attacked the sit-in, later joined a march to Maspero to reassure protesters that they had not, in fact, carried out the attacks.

As of press time, the identity of the assailants remained unknown. Many protesters, for their part, believe they are linked to security forces.

Activists have been staging an open-ended sit-in outside the television building since 25 January to call for a “purge” of state media and to ratchet up pressure on Egypt’s ruling military council to immediately hand over power to a civilian authority.

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