Clashes in Cairo after Mubaraks half concession
A dramatic and potentially deadly situation unfolded in which petrol bombs or Molotov cocktails were hurled by anti-Mubarak supporters from the edge of Tahrir square in central Cairo, the epicentre of the nine-day protests against the President`s 30-year-old rule.
The Army reportedly fired warning shots and tear gas was also fired on the protesters as the Tahrir Square, where peaceful protests were held till yesterday turned violent.
A Health Ministry official said that a soldier died after falling off a nearby highway overpass, and more than 400 persons were injured, amid reports that some journalists were roughed up and beaten.
The military ordered the protesters wanting Mubarak`s immediate ouster to "go home" after the President rejected their demand but they dug their heels showing no signs of relenting.
According to eyewitnesses, the warning shots were fired in the air by the troops at the main rally against Mubarak and it is thought to be the first time they have resorted to this action since they were deployed on Friday.
For the first time, 82-year-old Mubarak`s supporters took to the streets in central Cairo after they broke through the rally by protesters and urged the President not to quit under any circumstances, and were described by the opposition members as "thugs".
The action by Mubarak`s protesters appeared to be a move by the President to stamp out massive protests calling for him to quit. Mubarak has been in power since 1981 serving five consecutive terms.
Several thousand supporters of Mubarak, including some riding horses, camels and wielding whips, attacked anti- government protesters as the nine-day unrest took a violent turn. In chaotic scenes, the two sides pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their horses.
In a televised address, Mubarak said he would not seek a sixth term in September, but also indicated he would not cede the presidency immediately, eliciting boos and chants of "Leave, leave" from protesters in central Cairo.
His remarks on Tuesday night did little to appease the crowds still gathered in Tahrir Square, a focal point for demonstrations in the Egyptian capital.
As midnight neared, they insisted they would not leave until Mubarak stepped down.
A military spokesman appeared on state TV and asked the protesters to disperse so life in the most populous Arab nation could get back to normal. .