Army denies it was responsible for attacks in Tahrir on Friday

Ahram Online, Sunday 10 Apr 2011

Military council member Major General Adel Amera accuses counter-revolutionary elements of provoking the violent clashes on Friday night between protesters and soldiers which resulted in one death and 42 arrests

Major General Adel Amera, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has denied allegations that the army used force to disperse protesters who had stayed in Tahrir Square for a sit-in on Friday night.

In a press conference held Saturday evening, Amera said that the military council believes in the rights of citizens to protest peacefully and that it is a constitutional right.

Amera added that there were only a few army officers in the square on Friday and they were merely there to organize the protests and nothing more. He added that there is evidence that many of the protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday were not the same ones who sparked the January 25 Revolution, but were forces trying to ignite tension between the army the people.

He said that telltale signs pointing towards this were the threats made towards the US for the Qur'an burning incident and the chants outside the Israeli Embassy in response to air strikes on Gaza.

Amera said that by midnight on Friday, most of the protesters had gone home except for a few who decided to erect a tent in the middle of the square. Amera pointed out that these included several civilians dressed in army garb, which is illegal. As the curfew (2 am) approached, the army asked the protesters to leave but they refused. At 1 am, they began trying to disperse the protesters, but did not use any weapons although he added that the protesters had stones and Molotov cocktails. He also said that they also began arresting protesters illegally dressed in army attire.

Amera added that the army had recognized some of the figures in Friday’s protests and that they are members of the counter-revolution, something he described as a “very dangerous situation.”

The army, he said, arrested 42 protesters, including three foreigners. Investigations revealed that the protesters were supporters of a famous Egyptian figure, whose identity Amera refused to reveal, adding that it will be announced when the time is right.

He added that while trying to disperse the protesters, four members of the Armed Forces and nine civilians were injured.

At 5:30 am, large numbers of protesters started filling the square again, coming from Talaat Harb Street, carrying two rifles and several Molotov cocktails and attacked three cars owned by the Armed Forces. It was then reported that one of the protesters had died and was immediately transferred to the Armed Forces' hospital. Amera said that the protester died from a shot in the mouth, from above.

Amera also added that many of the protesters in the square were affiliated to Ibrahim Kamel, one of the heavyweights of the National Democratic Party (NDP) who stands accused of unleashing thugs on protesters in Tahrir on 2 February, known as the Battle of the Camel.

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