x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Egypt's government says 507 injured in Tahrir Square protest

Thousands of police clash with protesters for control of Tahrir Square after security forces attempt to prevent activists from staging a long-term sit-in.

CAIRO // Egyptian state TV reported that at least 507 people were injured in clashes with police in Tahrir Square yesterday.

Thousands of police clashed with protesters for control of the square after security forces tried to stop activists from staging a long-term sit-in.

The violence took place just nine days before Egypt's first elections since the departure of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The TV report said the casualty figures were from the health ministry.

In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising, protesters and police forces hurled rocks at each other, while crowds swarmed an armoured police truck, rocking it and setting it ablaze. Black smoke rose over the crowd.

Witnesses said the violence began when riot police dismantled a small camp set up to commemorate protesters killed in the uprising and attacked about 200 peaceful demonstrators who had camped out in the square overnight.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday to denounce the ruling military council, which has been heavily criticised for its oversight of Egypt's bumpy transition period.

Protesters are angry with attempts by the military to give themselves special powers over a future elected government.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas and beat protesters with batons to clear the area yesterday, said Sahar Abdel-Mohsen, an engineer who joined the protest after a call went out on Twitter telling people to come to Tahrir.

Ms Abdel-Mohsen said a friend was wounded by a rubber bullet that struck his head and that she saw another protester wounded by a pellet shot in his neck.

"Violence breeds violence," Ms Abdel-Mohsen said. "We are tired of this and we are not leaving the square."

* Associated Press