Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tahrir square burns

Clashes erupted again in Tahrir Square after Egypt's security forces moved to retake control of the area - killing nine and wounding over 300.

There were simultaneous protests in Tahrir Square and in front of nearby cabinet offices. Protesters had been camped outside of the offices since November 25 when they branched off from the larger demonstrations in Tahrir Square. After security forces began erecting razor wire barriers on access roads in the area, protesters began throwing stones and molotov cocktails against troops and police.

Protesters soon fled into side streets to escape the assault - troops were heavily beating protesters and live ammunition was fired. According to witnesses, the army used unnecessary force and once they charged at protesters they beat whoever was in their way - youth, elderly people and food and drink vendors on the square.

Soldiers also pulled down the tents set up in Tahrir square and set them on fire, violently dispersing remaining protesters. Protesters are angry at what they see as the military's reluctance to give up power and transfer authority to a fully civilian government.

According to some of the protesters, the army is deliberately provoking trouble so that they can justify remaining in power - as long as there are violent clashes, they can claim that they are needed and unable to transfer power for 'security reasons'.

The military says it must stay in power for stability during Egypt's transistion to democracy, but that it will step down when a president is elected next June. That election follows a series of parliamentary polls which have already begun.

The latest bloodshed follows demonstrations in which 42 people were killed in the week leading up to the start of the parliamentary polls. Source