Clashes Explode Around Cairo’s Tahrir Square

Anti-government protesters continued to face off against supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Thursday morning after a night of heavy gunfire resounding around Cairo’s Tahrir Square left at least three dead. While gunfire settled down shortly after dawn, demonstrators continued throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at each other over makeshift shields set up across the square.
Egypt’s health minister said Thursday morning that five people were killed in violence overnight in Tahrir Square, sparked

when supporters of Mubarak charged anti-government protesters.”Most of the casualties were the result of stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks,” Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid told state television by phone. “The real real casualties taken to hospital were 836, of which 86 are still in hospital and there are five dead,” he said. Automatic weapons fire and powerful single shots erupted around 4 a.m. local time (9 p.m. ET Wednesday) and continued for more than two hours.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters and Mubarak supporters were reportedly making their way to Tahrir Square for the 10th day of demonstrations and setting up the potential for more violent clashes Thursday morning.

The Egyptian army detained some protesters, but it was not sure from which side they came, Al Arabiya television reported without giving numbers. The heavy gunfire came hours after Mubarak supporters charged into Cairo’s central square on horses and camels brandishing whips while others rained firebombs from rooftops. It appeared to be an orchestrated assault against protesters trying to topple Egypt’s leader of 30 years.
“It’s really a battlefield,” a witness who gave her name as Mona told Al-Jazeera. She said she saw a protester shot in the head. But she said the protesters would not give up. “We are not leaving this place until Mubarak leaves.”

Army tanks laid down smoke screens between the sides. One protester was caught in a firebomb and rolled in an attempt to put out the flames. It was unclear whose side the person was on.

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