One more protester dead as Egypt’s security forces build fourth wall

Bel Trew, Monday 6 Feb 2012

Ahram Online investigates the bloody events of the fourth day of clashes between protesters and security forces on downtown Cairo’s streets as the death toll and injuries among protesters continue to rise

Egyptian protesters take injured protester to a field hospital during clashes with CSF (Photo: AP)

As violent clashes erupted again between protesters and Egypt’s security forces in downtown Cairo on Sunday evening, there are reportedly over a hundred protesters injured and one death.

The Central Security Forces (CSF) used tear gas and birdshot to clear the surrounding streets of the Interior Ministry, after building a new wall on Noubar Street, bringing the number of walls surrounding the government building to four, since Saturday morning.

Deputy Health Minister Hisham Shiha confirmed Ahmed Kenawy, 21, died at dawn from birdshot wounds to his neck and chest. Shiha also stated that 72 injured people received treatment at the ministry’s hospital. The makeshift field hospitals in the area reported 171 injured protesters.

On Sunday afternoon, several political figures and activists, including the Sheikh from Tahrir-based Omar Makram mosque, marched to Mansour Street – the frontlines of the last five days of clashes – to broker a truce between the security forces and protesters. When the attempt failed, the clashes began again.

“We were on Noubar street at around 9:30pm, people were chanting ‘Egypt, Egypt’ when we saw the CSF start building a new wall,” said Abdul Zinaldin, 19, who was shot in the leg on Sunday night with pellets. “Around three trucks attacked us with kartoush [birdshot]. We ran to Fahmy Street, one truck followed. They were shooting tear gas and kartoush again into the side streets between Fahmy and Mansour.”

Security forces also tear-gassed and shot at demonstrators on Mohamed Mahmoud and El-Falaky Street and on Bab El-Louq Square nearby. Protesters responded with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

“Today is really bad, the worst we have seen the last five days,” said Sherif Hussein, 32, one of the doctors manning the Tahrir Street field hospital on the edge of the square. “Since 9pm we have seen a lot of rubber pellets wounds to the whole body, as well as unconscious people coming out of tear gas attacks. We’ve been receiving hundreds of injured.”

This makeshift medical centre received the bulk of the injuries after the Bab El-Louq field hospital was raided by the CSF. “It was tear gassed heavily from the start of the fighting, protesters were trying to protect the hospital so the police attacked it with birdshot,” explained Sherif.

The field hospitals in Mohamed Mahmoud and El-Felaky Streets were also allegedly attacked, with field doctors reporting that some of the medical staff and the injured had been arrested.

According to eyewitnesses the security forces then pushed the epicentre of the fighting onto Bab El-Louq Square.

Ahram Online saw CSF armoured vehicles repeatedly drive up and down the square and around the side streets firing rounds of pellets at fleeing protesters.

Well known activist Salma Said, 26, who was filming the violence at the time, was hospitalised after the attack, receiving over 30 pellets to her legs as well as her face and stomach.

Mohammed Abdalla, 16, a student, was with her when it happened.

“We were on Fahmy Street and the entrance to Bab El-Louq at around 11pm when the CSF truck attacked. I had hidden behind an electric box and was trying to get Salma to join me,” explained Abdalla.

“She was shot three times before she had a chance to take cover. First when she tried to hide. Then the truck turned around and shot at her again as she was lying inert on the ground.  When we went to rescue her, they shot at all of us for a third time.”

Abdalla said the officer was shooting from the top of the truck: “he was not just targeting those on the street but shooting directly at those on the pavement trying to hide, or those trying to move the injured.”

Ahram Online saw panicked crowds of demonstrators and the injured spill into the neighboring Hoda Sharawy Street and further into downtown Cairo, mixing in with Sunday evening shoppers and the traffic.

There were unconfirmed reports of Egypt’s security forces entering a flat on El-Felaky Street and confiscating video equipment because the owner was filming the violence on her mobile phone from her balcony, activists told Ahram Online.

Unrest escalated during the attacks. Unidentified groups in civilian clothing were present in the downtown area near Bab El-Louq Square shooting at onlookers and passer-bys on the ground.

An Ahram Online journalist was shot at by an unknown gunman on Hoda Sharawy Street parallel to Bab El-Louq Square at around midnight, during the clashes. Minutes before the attack, the reporter had seen one man receive a birdshot wound to his stomach by the same shooter.

Sporadic attacks from the CSF continued through the early morning.

 “At 5:30am it had calmed down a bit. The CSF had moved to the end of El-Felaky Street and were shooting birdshot at anyone who was trying to get close,” explained Mahmoud Ahmed, 21 a protester at the scene. ”By midday Monday, the CSF were still present occasionally shooting at us.”

Since last Thursday thousands of angry protesters have been demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Interior over the security forces’ handing of events in Port Said's football stadium that left 74 dead. Security forces are accused of masterminding the attacks or allowing the attacks to happen. The interior minister, in turn, accused the protesters of attempting to storm the ministry.

Short link: