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In Pictures: Tahrir square burns
Nine people have been killed and over 300 wounded in Tahrir square as protesters clash with military troops and police.
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2011 14:12

Clashes erupted again in Tahrir Square after Egypt's security forces moved to retake control of the area - killing nine and wounding over 300.

There were simultaneous protests in Tahrir Square and in front of nearby cabinet offices. Protesters had been camped outside of the offices since November 25 when they branched off from the larger demonstrations in Tahrir Square. After security forces began erecting razor wire barriers on access roads in the area, protesters began throwing stones and molotov cocktails against troops and police.

Protesters soon fled into side streets to escape the assault - troops were heavily beating protesters and live ammunition was fired. According to witnesses, the army used unnecessary force and once they charged at protesters they beat whoever was in their way - youth, elderly people and food and drink vendors on the square.

Soldiers also pulled down the tents set up in Tahrir square and set them on fire, violently dispersing remaining protesters. Protesters are angry at what they see as the military's reluctance to give up power and transfer authority to a fully civilian government.

According to some of the protesters, the army is deliberately provoking trouble so that they can justify remaining in power - as long as there are violent clashes, they can claim that they are needed and unable to transfer power for 'security reasons'.

The military says it must stay in power for stability during Egypt's transistion to democracy, but that it will step down when a president is elected next June. That election follows a series of parliamentary polls which have already begun.

The latest bloodshed follows demonstrations in which 42 people were killed in the week leading up to the start of the parliamentary polls.

Protesters gathered near Tahrir square to demonstrate against the military [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Groups of soldiers and police officers roamed the streets with batons and firearms [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

The soldiers then moved into Tahrir square and began forcing protesters out [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Soldiers beat protesters in the area who refused to leave [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Protesters faced off with soldiers near Tahrir Square [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Soldiers continued violently emptying Tahrir Square of protesters who had been camping there [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Even food and drink vendors and their property were targeted by the soldiers [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

Soldiers began lighting the tents in Tahrir Square on fire after they had forcibly evacuated the area [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

 

By the end of the day, the tents of Tahrir were burned, property was destroyed and the square was emptied [credit: Lazar Simeonov]

Lazar Simeonov is a freelance photographer based in Ramallah, West Bank. You can visit his website here.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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