Death toll reaches five in Egypt protests

Arab World Materials 27 January 2011 02:24 (UTC +04:00)
The death toll reached five in Egypt's nationwide demonstrations after a protester and police officer were killed in clashes on Wednesday.
Death toll reaches five in Egypt protests

The death toll reached five in Egypt's nationwide demonstrations after a protester and police officer were killed in clashes on Wednesday.

Security confirmed a protester was killed when riot police in Cairo used force including armoured vehicles and rubber bullets to disperse a second day of anti-government protests.

A member of the security forces died Wednesday in clashes in Cairo, bringing the death toll of security forces to two. Two protesters were shot dead on Tuesday by security forces in the eastern port city of Suez.

Egyptian protesters reported being attacked by plain-clothed police.

At least 500 protesters had been rounded up by authorities in Egypt, Amnesty International said, as widespread protests continued for a second night.

"Instead of threatening demonstrators, Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to open a proper investigation into the killings of protestors and hold accountable anyone found responsible," the rights group said.

Despite government warnings that demonstrations would not be tolerated, hundreds gathered throughout various parts of Cairo by midday Wednesday, holding marches and calling for the ouster of President Hosny Mubarak, who has been in power for nearly 30 years.

Tuesday, dubbed the Day of Anger by activists, saw the largest nationwide anti-government protests since Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago. The protesters have called for the dissolution of Parliament, implementation of democracy and higher wages, along with the ouster of Mubarak.

The protests also focused on high unemployment and Egypt's Emergency Laws, which ban protests without government permits and allow the government to make arrests without charge.

Meanwhile, Suez protesters, who were demanding compensation and an investigation into the killings, set the local police station and town hall ablaze on Wednesday, according to security sources.

Sources told the German Press Agency dpa that some 50 people were injured in Wednesday's Suez protests.

A police officer died from injuries sustained in clashes in Cairo on Tuesday, according to security sources.

According to opposition al-Ghad party Secretary-General Wael Nawara, protester Karim Shaer is in critical condition in prison after being beaten in jail.

"We are all losing time and money and health, but the country cannot stay as is," Nawara said in a telephone interview with dpa.

Egyptian security sources confirmed that at least three protesters were wounded during ongoing protests in Cairo and hospitalized for treatment.

A number of journalists were arrested in the capital for "trying to incite the masses and create confusion in the street," according to security sources.

In at least one incident, police fired rubber bullets at protesters. Another gathering was dispersed by security personnel in armoured vehicles.

The threat of government action did little to cow the protesters.

"I am out here because of 30 years of brutal regime, which allows for a few people to steal all of the resources of the country and leaves the rest in poverty," Farouq el-Naggar, a retired writer, told dpa.

Protests are planned for Friday after midday prayers, according to online activists.

Sources close to dpa said that Mohamed ElBaradei, the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief turned Egyptian dissident, was expected to return to Cairo on Thursday from his residence in Vienna, ahead of Friday's planned protests.

After Twitter was blocked via Egypt's main internet companies on Tuesday, Facebook was severely crippled on Wednesday, with many unable to access the website.

In addition, Google and Gmail were blocked via the main internet companies.

The internet has been widely used to organize the demonstrations. But people have been able to access these websites on their mobile phones.

In response, a group of hackers - who in the past have attacked sites that barred contact with whistleblower website WikiLeaks - threatened to disrupt Egyptian government websites. Later in the day, the website of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology could not be accessed.

Egypt's protesters hope to emulate the Tunisian uprising that toppled Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 after nearly 23 years in power.

Tuesday's so-called "Day of Anger" ended overnight after security forces used rubber bullets, tear gas, and water canons to disperse protesters in Cairo's main Tahrir Square.

The nationwide protest - in at least 16 cities across Egypt - was one of the largest anti-government demonstrations since Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago.

Hundreds were injured on Tuesday, which also marked Egypt's Police Day, when black-clad riot police clashed with protesters.

Egypt's stock market continued to suffer during the violence, with the EGX 30 falling 6.02 per cent to 6,318, representing a loss of 25 billion Egyptian pounds (4.3 billion dollars) since the trading week began on Sunday, dpa reported.