Men with rocks attack remnants of Cairo protest

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:33 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Dozens of men attacked a few hundred pro-reform protesters in Cairo Wednesday to drive them out of Tahrir Square, the center of the uprising that drove President Hosni Mubarak from power, witnesses said.

The protesters, remnants of the revolt, said the men had hurled rocks at them. State television showed footage of hundreds of people facing off, throwing rocks.

Later in the day, army officers were seen removing protesters' tents asking them to leave the square, witnesses said.

"The army decided to remove tents and clear the square," a military official said.

Small groups of reformists have continued to gather in Tahrir Square since Mubarak was toppled on February11. Numbers have climbed on Fridays when activists have called for bigger participation to press demands for political reform.

"A group of gangsters attacked us with stones, they seemed to be wanting us to leave the square," said Gamal Hussein, 60.

Four other witnesses gave a similar account.

Ahmed Fathy, 40, said: "I saw two people injured in the head, carried away by people."

Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the Egyptian army's heavy-handed actions to clear the square of protesters.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that the army should participate in violently breaking up the peaceful protests," said Hassiba Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The group cited witnesses giving accounts on the army beating demonstrators, breaking up an informal medical clinic, and wiping out memory cards of journalists attempting to record the events.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Sarah Mikhail; Editing by Jon Boyle)