Thursday, 3 February 2011

Egypt situation worsens as five die in clashes

Five people have been killed during clashes that erupted in Cairo between anti-government demonstrators and supporters of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of rival group members have been fighting with whips and stones in Tahris Square, where the protests began.

It has been reported that Mubarak's supporters opened fired on the anti-government demonstrators, and the military, surrounding the square, did not intervene to prevent the shootings.

Egypt's Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid said: “Most of the casualties were the result of stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks…86 are still in hospital and there are five dead."

The anti-government protestors are demonstrating for Mubarak, ruler of Egypt for 33 years, to step down, and have said that they will not and “cannot go back”. Our sources in Cairo have informed us that the military has redeployed this morning to try to stem the flow of Mubarak supporters into the square. Clashes between the rival groups were also reported in Alexandria.

Egypt's State-owned media has been churning out propaganda about the protestors undermining the country's stability and security, with government and military officials urging people to go home. An army spokesman called on Egyptians to cease protesting, saying "Your message has arrived, your demands became known... you are capable of bringing normal life to Egypt."

Earlier this week, Mubarak pledged to step down come next polls, and promised to devote the remainder of his time in power to ensuring a peaceful transition to his successor. Speaking to the country, he said, "This is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil.”

Our sources have also said the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is backing Mohammed El Baradei in his bid to converse with the government to negotiate the escalating crisis; but the group is keen to remain out of the limelight and prevent the protests being de-legitimised by its involvement.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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