Security forces, protesters clash again in Cairo
Protesters and security forces fought in Cairo on Sunday, the third day of clashes that have killed 10 people and exposed rifts over the army’s role as it manages Egypt’s promised transition from military to civilian rule.
Soldiers and police manned barriers on some streets around Tahrir Square, the hub of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and again convulsed by violence as protesters demand the generals who took charge in February quit power.
Police in riot gear made brief forays beyond their barriers and were met by a surge of protesters pelting them with rocks. Police appeared to have taken over the frontline from soldiers.
Troops in riot gear were filmed on Saturday beating protesters with long sticks even after they had fallen to the ground. A Reuters picture showed two soldiers dragging a woman lying on the ground by her shirt, exposing her underwear.
The violence has overshadowed a staggered parliamentary election, the first free vote most Egyptians can remember, that is set to give Islamists the biggest bloc.
Some Egyptians are enraged by the army’s behaviour. Others want to focus on voting, not street protests.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will retain power even after the lower house vote is completed in January, but has pledged to hand over to an elected president by July.
“Down with Tantawi,” about 1,000 protesters chanted late on Sunday, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi who heads the army council and who was Mubarak’s defence minister.
Some youths had earlier hulred rocks and petrol bombs at lines of security forces. Riot police appeared to have moved to the frontline instead of soldiers.
An army source said 164 people had been detained.
Hundreds of protesters were in Tahrir on Sunday, although traffic was flowing through the square coming from streets not blocked and away from the violence. Most of the clashes have been in streets leading off the square.