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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Video and updates of clashes between Copts and cops in Egypt

Al Masry al Youm has some additional news from Cairo:

10:45 pm: An eye-witness reports that protesters attempting to move from Abdel Moneim Riad Square to Tahrir Square were charged by a police pick-up truck travelling at high speed. The pick-up truck emerged from behind military police, who were blocking the entrance to Tahrir. Small groups of protesters continue to attempt to re-group in the surrounding streets.

(Arabic edition quotes a witness as saying they ran over five protesters. Video here:)

(The video caption says that Copts took weapons from the security forces.)
10:45 pm: Hundreds of thugs attack the Coptic Hospital in Ramses, where scores of injured are currently being hospitalized. The thugs smashed cars in the street but were unable to gain entry to the hospital.

10:50 pm: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf states on his Facebook page: "What is happening now is not clashes between Christians and Muslims. Rather, it is an attempt to sow chaos and strife."

11:26 pm: A fierce street battle continues on Ramses Street, near the Coptic Hospital between two groups in civilian clothes. A number of cars are on fire as the groups throw molotov cocktails and stones back and forth.

11:43 pm: A group of men march up Qasr al-Ainy Street in downtown Cairo chanting, "Islamic, Islamic!," a common slogan of Islamist groups. State TV has announced that a curfew is in place from 2:00 am until 7:00 am.

11:50 pm: State TV announces that the death toll from the clashes has reached 23. There are no specifications of how many of the dead are soldiers or police and how many are protesters.

11:55 pm: Further confirming speculation of a crackdown on independent media, Randa Abul Azm, a journalist with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya tells Al-Masry Al-Youm that earlier in the evening a group of plainclothed men tried to break into their building after they spotted a camera on the balcony. The landlord then told the Al-Arabiya producers to stop filming or he would turn off the electricity. "This is very reminiscent of 2 and 3 February," when the Mubarak regime cracked down on independent media ahead of the "Battle of the Camel" attacks on protesters.

12:00 am: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf writes on the cabinet's Facebook page that "invisible hands are plotting to partition Egypt."

12:18 am: Eyewitnesses in downtown Cairo report that groups of thugs are attacking Christian-owned businesses, including a liqour store on Mahmoud Bassiouni St., near Abdel Moneim Riyadh Square, which was the center of clashes earlier in the evening.

12:45 am: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announces that he will host an emergency meeting with the "ministerial crisis management committee" on Monday to discuss this evening's events.

Al Arabiya has the death toll at 24.