Tahrir Square Reignites

In scenes reminiscent of the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Tahrir Square has erupted into two-days of riots.

Gabe Kahn. , | updated: 4:14 AM

Protesters in Tahrir Square (2011)
Protesters in Tahrir Square (2011)
Israel news photo: WikiCommons

Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of youths for the second day in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday, Gulf News reports.

Egyptian security forces firing tear gas clashed with more than 5,000 rock and firebomb-throwing protesters in central Cairo when the battle erupted late Tuesday. Dozens were left injured in the latest unrest to rattle the county, witnesses and medical officials said.

Clouds of tear gas and the wail of police sirens engulfed Tahrir Square as lines of security forces in riot gear battled to regain control of the central plaza from the demonstrators, many of them family members of the more than 850 people killed during the revolution earlier this year.

The families say they are frustrated with what they perceive as the slow prosecution of police officers believed to be responsible for the deaths of some 850 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

Rocks and shattered glass littered the streets surrounding Tahrir, as protesters chanted: "Down with the military junta." 

Injured, bloodied demonstrators lay dazed on the ground before the clashes ended due to Interior Minister Mansour Al Essawy issuing an order before dawn Wednesday for the security services to stand down.

The confrontation began Tuesday, when security forces cleared a sit-in outside the state TV building by the families of the slain protesters, an engineer who gave only his first name, Nourredine, said.

"I was in front of the state TV building this morning when the security forces attacked," he said. "Since then, things have been escalating."

The protesters re-grouped Tuesday evening outside the Interior Ministry, where rumors swirled that two demonstrators wounded earlier in the day had been arrested. 

It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence, but soon after gathering the protesters were hurling stones and security forces firing volleys of tear gas and blocking off streets around the building.

The clashes then shifted to nearby Tahrir Square, the symbolic epicenter of Egypt's revolution. In a sight reminiscent of the early days of the uprising, lines of security forces in riot gear sealed off the main streets leading into the square, while dozens of security vehicles were parked in side streets.

The government response shocked many of the protesters, who compared it to the heavy-handed tactics used by the security forces before Mubarak's fall.

"The security forces' violence is the same," engineer Al Maataz Hassan said. "They accuse the people of being thugs, then crackdown. It's the same mentality as before the revolution."

Tuesday's clashes, perhaps of the most serious between security forces and protesters since the revolution, are an offshoot of the tumultuous transitional period the country is going through under its interim junta.

That transition took a step forward earlier Tuesday with an Egyptian court's ordering the dissolution of more than 1,750 municipal councils, seen as one of the last vestiges of Hosni Mubarak's stranglehold on power.

The administrative court decision, announced by presiding judge Kamal Al Lamai, meets a major demand of the protest movement that drove Mubarak from power.