As you may know, the armed pro-Mubarak protesters had tried to charge into the Square on horses, camels and on foot Wednesday afternoon, which resulted in throwing of stones and hand to hand combat between the two groups. The fighting went on for most of the night, varying in levels of intensity. Molatov cocktails were thrown by pro-Mubarak forces, sometimes setting residential buildings on fire.
Here are a couple photos I took from the TV showing last night's and today's events at the Square:
I stayed up until the early hours of the morning watching all three news stations. Around 2am, things looked quite ominous. There were reports that the Pro-Mubarak forces had built barriers blocking off exits from Tahrir Square in a couple places. At one point, there were reports that they had also shot out street nights in the area they occupied. After the barrier was completed, around 4am, they began shooting at the protesters inside the Square. Live coverage of this by television networks included a woman being interviewed about how two of the anti-Mubarak protesters were shot in the head. At one point it sounded like there was machine gun fire. There were no police officers on the scene and the military personnel present did not intervene.
There is a video of the continued violence today found at this link from CNN.com:
The army did intervene numerous times during the day on Wed., separating the groups.
EuroNews reported that the casualty count from events in Tahrir Square yesterday and today include several dead and at least 800 injured. (The total count for those killed in the protests of the past 10 days is more than 150.) Violence in the Square continued today off and on. A clinic was set up near the Square to deal with the hundreds of injuries which included many bullet wounds.
This morning, there was a somber and tense feel walking around our neighborhood.
The anti-Mubarak protesters are still there in and around Tahrir Square, though at one point I heard they were pushed out of the Square by pro-Mubarak forces. Pro-Mubarak forces are also in the area of the square.
The new turn of events today was that pro-Mubarak forces targeted journalists. The New York Times reported at least 10 foreign journalists were detained in Cairo today and are said to be in “protective custody”. Some journalists were injured. Following these events, the army evacuated all journalists from the hotels surrounding Tahrir Square. Tonight there is very little live coverage of the events in the Square tonight as compared to last night which had almost constant coverage.
Another event that happened last night was that Egypt's newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman, addressed the public on TV. He said that all legitimate demands of the protesters had been met; then he asked the protesters to go home. He said elections would be held no later than September and possibly in August, which he noted was less than 200 days away. He announced the suspension of Parliament while the attacks against protesters were going on. He also objected to foreign countries' interfering with Egypt's affairs. Here's a photo of him from the TV giving his speech.
Meanwhile, in terms of everyday living issues, our neighborhood is getting better in terms of services. About 40-50% of the stores on the main street are still closed, but I was pleased to see the bank was open today so I was able to withdraw more cash, just in case we need a surplus in the future. I was able to get a new phone card so I have plenty of cell phone minutes. The bakery that had bread lines lasting a half hour just a few days ago was now full of bread without any bread lines.
The fruit store was well-stocked and said they have no trouble getting their produce every day. The owner and I talked about how things may be hard for some Egyptians considering issues with banks and getting weekly salaries. He said that he would extend credit to anyone who needed it. We're all set and don't need it, but it's good to know he is trying to help provide for others. My sense is that many Egyptians are pulling together to help provide for each other during these challenging times.
I have heard though that some communities, such as those inhabited by refugees, are really struggling.