Monday, November 28, 2011

Coffins run out as the battle for Egypt’s future rages in Tahrir Square once more

The protesters on the front line kept up a rhythmic drumbeat, striking the railings and barricades hastily thrown up on the perimeter of Tahrir Square with stones and planks of wood to fill central Cairo with a cacophonous message of defiance.

A hundred yards of rubble-strewn ashphalt separated them from soldiers and riot police advancing down the street at a slow but menacing pace.

Without warning, the air filled with tear gas. The pounding of the protesters grew more frenzied then faltered as a brief crackle of gunfire echoed nearby and the popping of the tear gas canisters grew more intense.

The rear ranks of the demonstrators began to splinter and then to break entirely, engulfing the square in pandemonium as people rushed for safety.

Some began to fall, choking on the tear gas. Others lay on the ground, felled by rubber bullets. Gaggles of men surged forward to help the wounded, chanting angrily as they raised them aloft and carried them towards the field hospitals that had mushroomed across the square.

Ambulances, their sirens wailing, weaved through the crowd, which vented its fury by hurling stones. The chants denouncing Egypt's military rulers reached new crescendos and the pounding resumed once more as the security forces retreated to regroup. more