Battle for Tahrir square rages on

Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Three people were killed in gunfire aimed at anti-regime protesters in Tahrir Square in central Cairo early Thursday morning, taking the death toll to six in the last 24 hours in clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.    


"Three people were killed by gunshots in the past three hours," said Dr. Amr Bahaa at a makeshift hospital set up at a mosque near Tahrir [Liberation] Square.

"Most of the casualties came in in the last three hours, many with gunshot wounds," he told news agency AFP, putting the total number of wounded since Wednesday at more than 1,000 people.

It was a very tense night last night. There was lots of shooting, especially around 430am. It sounded like someone was shooting in the air, probably to disperse protesters.

Interview with correspondent Michel Arseneault

RFI's Michel Arseneault said there was lots of shooting during the night but could not confirm if it was coming from the pro-Mubarak camp.

But he did confirm that the policemen at the demonstration on Wednesday were carrying weapons.

The US State Department issued a travel warning for citizens in Egypt, urging those who want to leave to "immediately" head for the airport, adding that any delay was "not advisable."

Washington, which has called for restraint since demonstrations broke out 10 days ago, deplored the violence against "peaceful protesters" while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the attacks on demonstrators were "unacceptable."

The State Department said Clinton had called Vice President Omar Suleiman, telling him the violence "was a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations."

"The secretary urged that the government of Egypt hold accountable those who were responsible for violent acts," the State Department added in a statement.

The European Union added its voice Wednesday to calls from US President Barack

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Obama for the transition from Mubarak's three-decade-long rule to begin immediately after the  president announced late on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in September.

But the Egyptian foreign ministry said such calls "sought to inflame the internal situation," while Suleiman, who was appointed this week, insisted there could be no dialogue with the opposition until all the protesters went home.

Correspondents, photographers and cameramen reporting on the clashes in Tahrir Square said that the Mubarak supporters were hostile to the press.

"I've met at least a dozen journalists whe were hit or beaten up because the pro-Mubarak crowd perceive us as being too favourable to the opposition camp," said RFI's Michel Arseneault.

Protesters have said they will proceed with plans for a massive demonstration on Friday, their designated "departure day" for Mubarak.





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