Egyptian army tries to stop clashes between pro-, anti-gov 't protesters

14:41, February 04, 2011      

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The Egyptian army takes up positions between anti- and pro-government protesters in the Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo on Thursday morning, the first move from the army since its presence in Egyptian streets.

The Egyptian health minister said on Thursday that five people were killed in the Tahrir Square amid clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters, which started on Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning.

"The real casualties who were taken to hospital were 836, of which 86 are still in hospital and there are five dead," Health Minister Ahmed Samih told state TV via phone.

Eyewitnesses on the scene said that some of the pro-Mubarak protesters broke through the barricades as the army stood in front of them. However, there are yet no reports on clashes.

Just a day after President Mubarak announced his intention of retiring after the end of his term, clashes erupted between Egyptians who share different opinions on the president's decision, turning downtown Cairo into a battlefield.

"Those people who want ElBaradei are traitors," shouted a man while throwing stones on anti-Mubarak Egyptians.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, negotiations between the Egyptian government and opposition parties have started.

However, prominent opposition activist Mohammed ElBaradei and the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood rejected the calls, saying President Hosni Mubarak must leave office first.

The Egyptian government rejected calls by the international community for the 30 years rule of Mubarak to come to an end.

On Wednesday, ElBaradei called on the army to intervene and stop the violence between the Egyptians, worst since protesters fought to stand in the streets since Friday.

"The people want Mubarak to leave," chanted the crowd who also announced that the Egyptian army is standing on their side.

Egypt has seen violence since Jan. 25, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, chanting slogans against Mubarak and the regime.

President Mubarak on Tuesday night said that he would not run for a new presidential term, but would only leave after restoring security and stability to Egypt.

The 83-year-old president said that he would die on the Egyptian soil. The U.S. President Barack Obama said he telephones Mubarak and said he wanted him to move faster on political transition.

"What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," Obama said in a televised statement after speaking to Mubarak.

On Wednesday, a Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement rejected U. S. and European calls for the transition to start immediately and said they "aimed to incite the internal situation in Egypt".

ElBaradei and some people blamed the police for the chaos in the Tahrir Square, however, the ministry of interior denied any involvement with either sides.

"A guy said that he was a prisoner and the police forced him to chant for Mubarak otherwise he would be sentenced for ever," said Waleed, a hotel guard.

"They are sending their thugs for us, but we will not leave before we get him out," said a 23-year-old injured person.

Anti-Mubarak protesters decided not to trust anyone, they divided themselves on checkpoints to protect themselves from Mubarak's supporters who threw stones on them.

"We are trying to protect ourselves against those people," said a women wearing nikkab.

The scene on the Oct. 6 bridge was very chaotic, where loyalists and protesters threw Moltov bottles at each other, and protesters said they were determined to stay, until requests were met.

Source: Xinhua
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