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Tahrir Square the Scene of a Street Fight

Pro-Mubarak thugs mounted camels and horses and charged into crowds of anti-government protestors Wednesday afternoon in Cairo's Tahrir Square. (photo: @evanchill, courtesy of Al Jazeera)

An ugly scene in the middle of Cairo. Supporters of lame duck Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak entered Tahrir Square and began fighting with clubs and stones. Troops did not intervene as the pro-Mubarak gangs and the demonstrators clashed. Roving gangs of Mubarak supporters mingled around the streets of Cairo as well. And the military refused to intervene, standing back as the fighting rose up around them. They made an announcement yesterday that protesters should go home.

Al Jazeera English reports more than 100 injured.

Protesters from both sides threw stones at each other in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of ongoing opposition demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak, for the past nine days.

Al Jazeera correspondents, reporting from the scene, said that more than a 100 people were injured in Wednesday’s clashes and in a stampede that started when trouble broke out.

Earlier, witnesses said thousands of pro-Mubarak supporters had entered the square. Opposition groups said Mubarak had sent in thugs to suppress the protest.

Tear gas has just been fired into the crowd, apparently by the army, at the front line of the battle, between the two groups of fighters. Warning shots have also been fired, and helicopters are flying low.

Anti- and Pro-Mubarak factions throwing rocks at each other in melee, 5:05 p.m. local time. (source: Al Jazeera via Livestation.com)

The front line basically is set up near the Egyptian museum, near a row of military trucks. Because of barriers set up around the square, it is difficult for demonstrators to get out of it.

Al Jazeera also reported that an Al Arabiya reporter was stabbed during the fighting.

I’ll keep watching.

UPDATE: The pro-Mubarak forces have advanced beyond the military trucks. Some of them have found their way into the high-rises and are throwing rocks and projectiles down on the protesters in the Square.

UPDATE II: Some of the pro-Mubarak supporters entered the square on horse and camel. The resulting stampede caused many of the injuries. One of their slogans, other than support for Mubarak, was criticism for Al Jazeera.

[ed. note: Siun continues to provide updates, as well.]

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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