Shura-bound protesters torch police vehicles in clashes in downtown Cairo

Ahram Online, Monday 28 Jan 2013

Anti-government demonstrators en route to Egypt's Shura Council respond to aggression by security forces by torching police vehicles, capturing CSF soldier

CSF vehicle on fire near Nile corniche (Photo: Philip Rizk)


Egyptian Central Security Forces (CSF) on Monday evening clashed with thousands of protesters on the Nile Corniche at the heart of downtown Cairo.

Protesters had been heading towards the Shura Council – the upper house of Egypt's parliament – in one of several marches held to protest the death of dozens of protesters in recent confrontations with security forces across the country.

CSF troops fired teargas at protesters as they chanted "Peaceful, peaceful" at around 7pm, according to Ahram Online reporters, before violence intensified further.

Ahram Online's Simon Hanna reported that one armoured CSF vehicle drove "frantically" towards protesters, leaving several injured. Shortly afterward, angry protesters set the vehicle alight.

Karim Hafez, another Ahram Online reporter at the scene, also reported that angry protesters had smashed another armoured vehicle in Cairo's nearby Tahrir Square.

Demonstrators also reportedly captured a CSF soldier. The April 6 Youth Movement announced in a press release that protesters had handed the captured soldier over to Cairo's Agouza Hospital and that he was in good health.

Marchers suffered smoke inhalation and birdshot injuries, according to Ahram Online's Bel Trew. The Egyptian Ambulance Organisation, affiliated with the health ministry, stated that the injury toll had reached 26. No deaths have been reported so far.

Ahmed Harara, the blind dentist-cum-activist who lost one eye during Egypt's 2011 revolution and his second eye in clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in 2011, was among the injured in Monday's clashes. According to the Constitution Party, Harara – a leading party member – was hit in the head with shotgun pellets but nevertheless remains in good condition.

The interior ministry, meanwhile, reported that four of its officers and seven conscripts had been injured in the ongoing skirmishes.

Clashes have been ongoing between police and protesters across the country since Friday, which marked the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 Revolution. As of press time, over 50 people had been reported killed in the violence.

The death toll rose dramatically in Port Said on Saturday when a court sentenced 21 Port Said residents to death for their involvement in last February's Port Said stadium disaster, in which scores of football fans were killed. Since then, the city has witnessed intense rioting, with residents accusing the central government of scapegoating and marginalising them.

On Friday, nine people were killed in the canal city of Suez, which witnessed more violence over the weekend before tensions subsided slightly on Monday.

Intermittent clashes continued on Monday in Cairo, Damanhour and Alexandria as the Islamist-dominated Shura Council swiftly ratified security measures requested by President Mohamed Morsi. These included the declaration of a state of emergency in Suez, Ismailia and Port Said and granting the military the authority to "safeguard state institutions against saboteurs and restore security."

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