Violent clashes between security forces and revolutionary youth in Egypt has left some 600 people injured and at least ten dead over two days. The riots flared after rumors of a beaten protester prompted crowds to attack a government building.
Egypt’s military has managed to clear Tahrir Square of protesters, Al Jazeera reports. Security forces used batons to drive the protesters from the square before burning their tents, thus ensuring they have nowhere to return to. Police have also secured the periphery of the square to prevent re-occupation.
At least 45 more people have been injured in clashes on Saturday, bringing the total number of victims of the ongoing unrest to more than 600.
The newly-appointed Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri condemned the protesters, who “threw rocks and destroyed everything they came across,” at an emergency media conference on Saturday. He also stressed that security forces did not use live ammunition against the rioters and that the crackdown was a response to what he described as “an attack on the revolution.”
Early on Saturday, Egyptian police and troops made an attempt to regain control over the area near the Parliament and Cabinet building. Forces erected razor-wire barriers to block access roads to Tahrir Square, the Associated Press reported. But the measures helped to keep peace only for few hours, after which new clashes erupted.
Friday’s violence sparked near the Parliament and Cabinet building in Cairo, where protesters demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The three-week sit-in ignited after rumor spread on the internet that one of the protesters had been snatched by the military and badly beaten.
In a separate incident on Friday, a rumor circulated on the internet that the military tried to poison activists at the camp by handing over free food. The tension escalated with the demonstrators trying to breach the cabinet building and its defenders throwing rocks at the assaulting crowd from the rooftop. Later police dispersed the sit-in and burned down their tents.
Meanwhile angry crowds in Cairo started torching cars and bombarding security officers with stones and firebombs. Police responded with a brutal crackdown. They used water cannons, tear gas and, allegedly, shot live ammo overhead and then directly at the rioters. At least two of the people killed in the clashes have been confirmed by doctors to have died from gunshot wounds.
The violence spread across the city in the evening and overnight, with numerous injuries reported both among the protesters and the security forces. Between four and ten people have been killed according to different sources, including prominent cleric Sheik Emad Effat, who supported the anti-military opposition and issued religious decrees forbidding voting at the parliamentary election.
The clashes have resulted in the resignations of two members of a civilian advisory council installed this month by the SCAF in a gesture to protesters. The council denounced the crackdown on the opposition and called on the military to end violence. It also demanded independent investigation of the events.
The two-day riots are largest in Egypt since November, when more than 40 people were killed and many more injured. The previous clashes resulted in the fall of the government, which was installed after February’s fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.