More than 60 injured in Cairo violence

Reuters, CAIRO

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 - Page 6

At least 61 people have been injured in central Cairo, some with bullet wounds, during clashes between police and protesters on the anniversary of lethal street violence between activists and security forces.

Activists called the protest on Monday to put pressure on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to punish those responsible for killings and abuses during the rule of the generals who assumed power after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was toppled by an uprising in February last year.

The skirmishes, which extended into Tuesday, erupted at the scene of clashes last year in which 42 people were killed during protests against the military council that ran the country before Morsi was elected in June.

Some activists said the latest bout of violence began when police threw rocks at protesters on Monday to try to stop them from taking down concrete barriers that have blocked off roads to the Egyptian Interior Ministry since last year. They said they had a court order allowing the barriers to be removed.

Nineteen people have been arrested during the clashes, in which protesters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at police guarding the ministry were repelled with teargas.

Some protesters said security personnel threw stones at them from the top of a school building on Tuesday.

Some of the protesters taken to hospital were severely injured from birdshot and bullets, state news agency MENA said.

A member of the Sixth of April Youth Movement, Gaber Salah, was wounded with birdshot in the head, neck, chest and arms, and put on life support in intensive care, MENA said.

In an address on state television on Tuesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said: “We support peaceful protests ... but under all circumstances people cannot attack buildings or police, because police protect our buildings and children.”

The public prosecutor has ordered an investigation.

Last year’s street battles started when police pulled down the tents of protesters who had camped overnight in Tahrir Square — the heart of the uprising against Mubarak — after a demonstration against the generals.

That prompted thousands of protesters to return to the square and clashes erupted. The violence became known as the “Mohamed Mahmoud events” after the street in which they took place. The street is located off Tahrir Square.

In Monday’s protest, stones and empty bottles were hurled by demonstrators and 24 people were injured, including four policemen, by the early hours of Tuesday.

Television footage early on Tuesday showed different groups of people present in the area from the previous evening. The footage showed children and teenagers, some of them carrying school backpacks, taking part. Some were shown throwing rocks at buildings. One youth was pictured using a fire extinguisher to smash a window.

Protests, which have become frequent in Egypt since Mubarak’s overthrow, often begin calmly, before attracting what some democracy activists have described as delinquent youths looking for trouble.