Deadly clashes rock Egyptian capital

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 03, 2011 05:40 hrs

Cairo: Rounds of gunfire were heard early today at Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital after violent clashes broke out between pro-and anti-Hosni Mubarak supporters over the President's refused to step down immediately, leaving at least three people dead and over 600 others injured.

Protesters who want Mubarak to quit immediately were still holding their ground in the epicentre of the protest at Tahrir (Liberation) Square where gunfire shots were heard.

Violence against Egyptian protesters draws condemnation

A potentially deadly situation had arisen on Wednesday as those opposed to Mubarak hurled petrol bombs or Molotov cocktails from the edge of Tahrir square.

Three people were killed and 639 wounded in fresh clashes between pro- and anti-regime protesters on Cairo's Tahrir Square, the Egyptian health minister said.

"The majority of the wounded were injured by stones," Ahmed Hosni Farid told the state television channel.

"No one was wounded by gunshots," he added.

Anti-government protests must stop: Egypt vice president

Some journalists covering the unrest were also attacked, reports said.

Mubarak, 82, on Tuesday had said he would not seek another term in September but would neither quit immediately.

Protesters said they will proceed with plans for a massive protest tomorrow, their designated "departure day" for Mubarak.

A military spokesman yesterday appeared on state TV and asked the protesters to disperse so life in the most populous Arab nation could get back to normal.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman also asked demonstrators to leave the Tahrir Square and observe a curfew to restore calm.

"Dialogue with the political opposition forces... requires that the demonstrations end and the Egyptian street returns to normal," he said.

The warning shots were fired in the air yesterday by the troops at the main rally against Mubarak and it is thought to be the first time they have resorted to this action since they were deployed on Friday.

For the first time, 82-year-old Mubarak's supporters took to the streets in central Cairo after they broke through the rally by protesters and urged the President not to quit under any circumstances, and were described by the opposition members as "thugs".

Transition of power in Egypt must start now: White House

The action by Mubarak's protesters appeared to be a move by the President to stamp out massive protests calling for him to quit. Mubarak has been in power since 1981 serving five consecutive terms.

Several thousand supporters of Mubarak, including some riding horses, camels and wielding whips, attacked anti- government protesters as the 10-day unrest took a violent turn yesterday.

International community expressed concern over the violence in the country.

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