Clashes are continuing between Egyptian security forces and more than 5,000 protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, leaving more than 590 injured, according to witnesses and medical officials.
Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, remained sealed off early on Wednesday as lines of security forces in riot gear strived to regain control from demonstrators.
Witnesses said the clashes started on Tuesday when police tried to clear a sit-in at the state-TV building, which included families of those killed during the country’s revolution earlier this year, known as the “martyrs”, according to the Daily News, an Egyptian news website.
Witnesses said police showed up and attacked the families outside the Balloon Theatre in Agouza, where a planned memorial service for the families was taken place.
The ministry of interior said in a statement on Tuesday that “people who claimed to be families of martyrs, tried to break into the theatre” in which the service was held.
Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo Ayman Mohyeldin said: “The original dispute happened between families of the martyrs of the revolution as they were trying to attend an event [and were denied access].
“At that point there were clashes between police and some of those family members that ultimately spilled over to other parts of the city.
“The protest gained momentum and made its way into Tahrir Square, and ultimately to the interior ministry,” he said.
Rocks and shattered glass littered the streets around Tahrir, as protesters chanted: “Down with the military junta.”
Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has said that he ordered the police to withdraw from Tahrir Square to reduce tension.
He also added that the performance of the police had been improving, and that some people may not be happy with the gradual return of police and security. But he “urged the youth to protect their revolution.”
Our correspondent in Cairo said that police had been aggressive in pushing the crowd back.
Looks like the new Egypt is a lot like the old Egypt. Keep in mind what took place during the “revolution” was a military coup and thus far, there is no evidence that this is anything other than essentially a continuation of military dictatorship, just without Mubarak. And that is NOT the fault of the Egyptian people.