Violence In The Square: "This Is Medieval"


by Chris Bodenner

It's nearly 11pm in Cairo. Watch live scenes from Tahrir Square here. ABC's Lara Setrakian tweets:

This is a clear and brutal siege on what had been a peaceful protest. Sirens in the background, helicopters overhead. More gunfire, and watching streams of men trying to break up the human chain protecting Tahrir Square from one direction. People linking arms, in rows 3-4 thick, have secured all but one of the entrances to Tahrir Square. They're getting charged by thugs. Women and children are still in the center of Tahrir Square. More gunshots. We are watching petrol bombs thrown from a building above, onto the crowd below.

Al Jazeera's Evan Hill more recently tweets:

Tahrir protesters open the barricade, allow men with metal shields to advance on pro-Mubarak crowd. The Tahrir protesters are trying to slowly advance their shield wall, and a new battle has opened. Stone and molotov throwing. This is medieval. The pro-Mubarak crowd has mounted several charges against the advancing Tahrirites, but they never get w/in 75 ft.

Protesters at museum now look like they outnumber the Mubarak supporters. They have formed a staggered wall of angled metal shields. ... The Mubarak crowd at the Egyptian museum is melting away. Tahrir protesters are beating on their metal barricades in unison, in celebration. ... Jaw-dropping: the Tahrir protesters have broken out completely and rushed the Mubarak crowd.

Scott Lucas writes:

Al Jazeera now estimates, from medical sources, that more than 750 have been injured in Tahrir Square today.

Two Swedish journalists from the paper Aftonbladet were attacked by a crowd and then held for several hours by the military today. Egyptian journalist Jano Charbel was beaten by State Security Police. Al-Arabiya TV correspondent Ahmed Abdullah (see 1810 GMT) has been found. He was severely beaten and is now in hospital.

Mostafa El Fekki from the ruling NDP tells Al Jazeera Arabic:

I can confirm that NDP businessmen were behind the Meydan Tahrir [Tahrir Square] mercenaries. The NDP businessmen sent the mercenaries to Tahrir as a favour for Mubarak. I am an NDP member but I disagree with some policies. What happened today is simply too much.

The Guardian team blogs:

We received a very interesting email from a Brit living in Cairo, who does not want to be named:

I received a txt message from "Egypt Lovers" telling me to go to Tahrir Square and show my support for the regime! The message was translated for me by a friend and I understand it has been sent to everyone. How did the pro-Mubarak supporters do that? How did they get everyones phone numbers? Perhaps because "Egyt Lovers" are actually the interior ministry...?

... The newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman has just urged the protesters to go home, offering them the prospect of dialogue. That is very unlikely to have any impact, judging by the determination the protesters have shown today in the face of violent attack.

Robert Mackey writes:

Ben Wedeman, a CNN correspondent based in Cairo, just reported that several of the regime supporters he spoke with on Wednesday said that they worked for government-owned companies. He said that foreign correspondents in Egypt, where protests are normally banned unless they support the government, have long joked that Egypt seems to have a "Ministry of Spontaneous Demonstrations." ...

At a White House press briefing on Egypt, a reporter just asked if President Barack Obama's statement on Tuesday night, that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," meant that he would be satisfied with Hosni Mubarak remaining in power until September. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded, "now started yesterday."

(Photo: Anti-government protestors get caught by a petrol bomb thrown by pro President Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square on February 2, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Yesterday President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not run for another term in office, but would stay in power until elections later this year. Thousands of supporters of Egypt's longtime president and opponents of the regime clashed in Tahrir Square, throwing rocks and fighting with improvised weapons. By Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)