Mubarak supporters clash with protesters in Cairo; men charge into square on horses, camels + PIC

  • News Code : 224000
  • Source : Nydailynews
Violent clashes erupted in Cairo Wednesday as demonstrators for and against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ignored the military curfews and exchanged volleys of rocks and bottles and engaged in fistfights across Tahrir Square.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - At one point, men riding horses and camels charged into the square and began lashing people with whips, before some were pulled off their mounts and beaten by angry mobs, according to local reports.

The rioting was the first violent clash between anti-government demonstrators and Mubarak supporters, who gathered in the square in larger numbers than seen before, according to news reports.

A pro-government demonstration streams past an Egyptian Army tank and armored
personnel carrier as it marches along the Corniche towards Tahrir Square.

Dozens of bloody protesters were seen being led away from the square after being hit with rocks, bottles or clubs, and many were being treated for wounds at makeshift clinics nearby, according to CNN.

Soldiers – who were initially standing by as the rioting spilled into the streets around the square  -- eventually stepped in and began separating the demonstrators with military vehicles and tossing tear gas

The sound of gunfire was also heard, CNN reported.

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and
camels and wielding whips, march towards anti-Mubarak protesters

The rioting erupted one day after Mubarak, the autocratic ruler of Egypt for three decades, buckled to pressure from his own military and outside governments and vowed to step down.

But his promise to remain in office until a presidential election in September angered his opponents, who demanded he leave office immediately.

The crowds in Tahrir Square grew after the speech, with pro-Mubarak demonstrators arriving in large numbers for the first time in a week.

Small skirmishes between the two groups began in both Cairo and Alexandria after midnight local time, according to reports.

Earlier in the day, the military urged the demonstrators to return to their homes to allow life to return to normal on the streets of Cairo.

"Your message was received and we know your demands," the spokesman said in a television broadcast. "We are with you and for you."

But the plea was largely ignored.

The square was already packed with protesters shortly after dawn on Wednesday, as many people, including families with small children, slept in tents overnight.

A wounded demonstrator is evacuated from Cairo's main square.

President Obama said he spent 30 minutes on the phone with Mubarak, "an important regional ally" before the Egyptian president made his announcement on state TV.

During the phone call, Obama insisted on a rapid transition, the New York Times reported.

Publically, Obama did not call on Mubarak to step down, but said an orderly transition in Egypt "must be meaningful, must be peaceful and must begin now."

In response to the growing tension, governments continued to call for the safe removal of their citizens from the region.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said emergency flights would begin to pull Australians out of Cairo on Wednesday.

Britain was organizing extra flights to bring British nationals back to the U.K., according to CNN, and Greece sent military aircraft to evacuate more than 200 Greeks from Egypt, the official Athens News Agency said.

The protests began on Jan. 25 in response to the alleged rigging of elections in November by Mubarak and his National Democratic Party.

In those elections, the NDP gained 90% of seats in Parliament while the Islamist opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, lost all 88 of its seats.

Pro-government demonstrators  and anti-government demonstrators
threw stones and bottles at one another in Tahrir Square.

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