33 dead and thousands more injured as 'heavy handed' military regime cracks down on protests in Cairo
- Thousands converge on Tahrir Square after overnight clashes
- Cabinet submits its resignation to the ruling military council
- Doctors seeing '80 casualties and hour' in makeshift hospital stations
- Soldiers and police burn tents and hit crowd with truncheons
- Social networks again linking protesters to outside world
Last updated at 1:14 AM on 22nd November 2011
The death toll in the battle for Cairo’s Tahrir Square rose to 33 yesterday as fighting between protesters and the police escalated sharply.
Police fired tear-gas and plastic bullets as demonstrators calling for Egypt’s army rulers to quit hurled stones and rocks from behind makeshift barricades.
Many of those who died succumbed to bullet wounds, but although protesters have brandished bullet casings, police deny using live ammunition. It was the third consecutive day of street battles which have left more than 1,700 people injured and threaten to spiral out of control. Enlarge
For young and old: At both ends of the protest spectrum, a young man throws a rock at riot police, above left, while a bearded older man wears goggles and a surgical mask to protect himself against tear gas attack
Last night thousands of protesters remained packed into the symbolic square where demonstrations helped topple detested leader President Hosni Mubarak in February.
A military council has held power since then, but protesters are demanding that it hands over to a civilian government. Parliamentary elections are due to begin next week, but the protesters want the military out immediately.
They accuse the generals of acting in the same autocratic way as Mubarak’s regime and fear they will dominate the coming government just as they have the interim one they appointed in March.
Yesterday that government, under prime minister Essam Sharaf, submitted its resignation to the military council, but is to stay on until a decision on a handover is made.
Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Today programme on Radio 4 that the military should remain in charge to oversee the elections, but there should then be ‘the speediest possible transition to civilian democratic rule’.
Extensive damage: Smashed windows, burning buildings and streets strewn with debris are a common sight in the streets surrounding Tahrir Square as violence continues
Little cover: Demonstrators hide behind a makeshift shield as security forces - on foot and in riot vehicles - approach their position. Doctors are reporting seeing around 80 casualties an hour
Sustained attack: Protesters flee from tear gas fired by riot police, during clashes at a road that leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square
The military says it will hand over power only after presidential elections, which it has vaguely said will be held in late 2012 or early 2013.
Mr Hague said the deaths and injuries were ‘of great concern’, but dismissed claims that the violence undermined hopes that the ‘Arab Spring’ wave of protests in the region would usher in more democratic governments.
Protesters battled with police throughout yesterday, hurling stones and firebombs and throwing back the tear-gas canisters being fired by police into the square.
Scroll down for footage of Tahrir Square clashes
Before the dawn: Tahrir Square, centre of the Egyptian revolution and now the focus of renewed demonstrations. At least 22 protesters have been killed and more than 1,700 injured
Daylight: Riot police have largely secured the square today, but confrontation between protesters and police is continuing in surrounding streets
Time for prayer: Showing the level of unity among protesters, Coptic Christians stand guard as their Muslim comrades pray in a respite in clashes with the armed forces in the square
A constant stream of injured protesters – bloodied from rubber bullets or overcome by gas – were brought into makeshift clinics set out on pavements around the square where volunteer doctors scrambled from patient to patient.
Police attacked one of the clinics, but were driven back by protesters hurling chunks of concrete from smashed pavements.
Internet clips showed police beating protesters with sticks, pulling them by the hair and, in one case, dumping what looked like a body on a rubbish heap.
‘The people had a revolution to live a better life, but look at everything,’ said protester FayezMohammed, his eyes streaming from tear-gas.
Islamists, who expect to do well in the elections and suspect the army wants to curtail their influence, dominated the demonstrations.
Defiance: Holding the flag and facing police in full riot gear with mere stones, young protesters show their determination to make their presence felt
Not confined to the square: A protester stands in a burning building in Cairo this morning - one of many buildings damaged during overnight fighting
A protester is treated after being hit in the eye, while a field hospital staff member holds spent ammunition collected by protesters. Security forces have used rubber bullets and live rounds during the clashes
Analysts say Islamists could win 40 per cent of assembly seats, with many going to the influential Muslim Brotherhood.
HAGUE: DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE
Renewed violence in Egypt should not dampen optimism about the so-called Arab Spring, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.
He said the military should remain in charge to oversee elections, due to begin next week, but they should be followed by 'the speediest possible transition to civilian democratic rule'.
He also called on the military to end the present state of emergency, release detained protesters and take action to boost the economy.
He said: 'It is very important that elections take place and that then there is the speediest possible transition to civilian democratic rule in Egypt. There are many things the military rulers in Egypt need to do.'
The deaths and injuries were 'of great concern', he said, but he insisted it did not undermine hopes that the wave of protests in the region would usher in more democratic governments.
But the weekend unrest drew in many other protesters, including young activists who helped topple Mubarak.
Army generals were feted for their part in easing him out, but hostility to their rule has hardened, especially over attempts to set new constitutional principles that would keep the military permanently beyond civilian control.
The army says the polls beginning on Monday will go ahead, but the unrest could deter voters in the capital. Some Egyptians believe the army council may be stirring insecurity to prolong its rule, a charge it denies.
Protesters also marched yesterday in other cities, including Alexandria where thousands of students called for those responsible for the violence in Cairo to be punished.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no current travel restrictions in place for Britons travelling to Egypt, but it strongly advises them to stay away from Tahrir Square and the downtown area of Cairo and to avoid all crowds and demonstrations.
Visitors are also advised to stay away from polling stations which could become flash points during the elections.
The FCO website says: ‘The situation is changing rapidly and we recommend that you follow events on local and international news and seek advice from tour operators.’
Overview: Protesters use wooden boards as shields as tear gas is fired by riot police near the Interior Ministry
Loaded: Police officers with shotguns face in all directions during the violence. The weapons fire rubber bullets, which are described as 'non-lethal' projectiles but can inflict serious injury
Sending a message: With spent rubber bullet cartridges on his fingers, one protester holds his hand aloft in a classic V for victory sign
Fighting back: A masked protester carries a tear gas canister back towards Egyptian troops. Demonstrators continued their standoff with troops and police today