Egyptian police battle protesters, 33 dead
Cairo police fought protesters demanding an end to army rule for a third day on Monday and the death toll rose to 33, with many victims shot, in the worst violence since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
As midnight approached, about 20,000 people packed Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolt early this year, and thousands more milled around in surrounding streets.
“The people want the fall of the marshal,” they chanted, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s defense minister for two decades and head of the army council.
In a late-night statement, the ruling council urged calm and called for crisis talks with political forces to find a way forward. The council voiced its “deep regret for the victims in these painful incidents”, state news agency MENA said.
“It called on all sections of the nation to show the greatest degree of self-restraint so that the matter does not lead to more victims and casualties,” the agency added.
The military council did not say whether it would accept the resignation of the cabinet, tendered on Sunday. A military source said it was seeking agreement on a new prime minister.
The resignation of the cabinet, in office since March, was another blow to the military council’s authority and casts further uncertainty on Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections in decades, which are due to start next Monday.
Clashes flared in side-streets near Tahrir. Witnesses said looters, not necessarily connected to the protests, had attacked the American University in Cairo and other buildings.
Security forces also battled about 4,000 demonstrators in the port city of Ismailiya on the Suez Canal, witnesses said. Tear gas was also fired at about 2,000 protesters in the northern coastal city of Alexandria.