Shots, clashes reported in Cairo’s Tahrir Square

Shots, clashes reported in Cairo’s Tahrir Square
# 09 March 2011 23:46 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Pro-democracy activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square endured waves of attacks by people armed with machetes, knives, Molotov cocktails and horsewhips, according to opposition forces and witnesses, APA reports quoting CNN.
The assaults late Tuesday left at least 44 people injured, opposition activists said.
The violence continued into Wednesday in the square, which was the center of the Egyptian protest movement that led to the removal of President Hosni Mubarak last month.
The activists said protesters -- who have a permanent encampment in the square -- were assaulted by gangs supporting the country’s security apparatus, a remnant of the Mubarak regime.
Gunshots were heard in the square on Wednesday afternoon.
Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced Mubarak from office.
Demonstrators also are angry about Mubarak’s 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and economic issues, such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.
Since the president’s departure, several thousand people have protested in Tahrir Square to urge Egypt’s new rulers to implement promised reforms.
They have pressed Egypt’s Supreme Council to end an emergency law and release political prisoners, among other things. They also have demanded civilian representation in government.
A British Foreign Office minister was to meet with Prime Minister Essan Sharaf, other top officials and opposition leaders in Egypt during a two-day visit that began Wednesday.
Before the visit, Alistair Burt said he urged officials "to work quickly towards free and fair democratic elections" and looks forward to spending time "with some of those who inspired such a profound change in the country’s direction." He also said he plans to discuss the crisis in Libya and the Middle East peace process.
In clashes unrelated to the political demonstrations, 13 people were killed Tuesday in skirmishes between Coptic Christians and Muslims in the capital, state-run television said. About 90 were wounded in the clashes, Egypt’s health minister, Dr. Ashraf Hatem, said.
Also Tuesday, several hundred people showed up for a pro-women demonstration in Cairo -- including some men who chanted anti-feminist slogans.
Egyptian activists had called for a Million Woman March Tuesday, demanding "fair and equal opportunity for all Egyptian citizens -- beyond gender, religion or class."
The march started in Tahrir Square Tuesday afternoon, on International Women’s Day.
The turnout appeared to be no more than 1,000, and the event quickly degenerated into shouting matches between the two sides.
Activists highlighted the role of women in the protests that swept Egypt this year.
Women were very visible among demonstrators who toppled Mubarak last month, which feminists called a breakthrough for Egyptian society.