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Troops open fire on protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, killing three

[ 2011-12-20 16:57]     字号 [] [] []  
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Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers in riot gear swept through Cairo's Tahrir Square, early on Monday and opened fire on protesters demanding an immediate end to military rule. The Health Ministry said at least three people were killed, bringing the death toll for four days of clashes to 14.

Violence has been raging in Cairo since Friday, when military forces guarding the Cabinet building near Tahrir Square heavily cracked down on a three-week-old sit-in to demand Egypt's ruling generals immediately hand power to a civilian authority.

The raid on Monday may have been an attempt by the military to keep protesters away from key government buildings near the square, including parliament and the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the hated police force.

A field hospital doctor who witnessed the crackdown said six people were killed by gunshots, giving a toll twice that of the Health Ministry's. He said troops stormed a mosque on the square, beating up protesters who spent the night inside.

The ruling generals, who took power 10 months ago after the popular uprising that forced longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak to step down, have described the clashes as part of a "conspiracy" against Egypt.

The protesters have decried the military's heavy-handed crackdown. Activists have flooded social network sites and other media with photos and video of troops beating and attacking protesters.

Some widely circulated footage shows an army officer firing a pistol at protesters - though it is not clear whether he was using live ammunition. Other images show soldiers dragging women by the hair and ferociously beating, kicking and stomping on protesters cowering on the ground.

Hard-core activists have camped in the square since a protest against army rule on Nov 18 that was sparked by the army-backed cabinet's proposals to permanently shield the military from civilian oversight in the new constitution.

Tough security tactics against hot-headed youths also sparked a flare-up last month that killed 42 people.

A small group of activists approached protesters hurling stones on Sunday and called on them to stop, but they refused, citing the deaths of 10 people as a reason not to "negotiate".

Other activists handed over to the army people they said were making petrol bombs.

The violence has deepened the frustration of many ordinary Egyptians, who want an end to months of unrest that has left the economy in tatters.


1. What is the death toll currently at, according to the Health Ministry?

2. What have ruling generals described the clashes as?

3. How many were killed in last month's flare-up?


1. 14.

2. A conspiracy.

3. 42 people.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Troops open fire on protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, killing three

About the broadcaster:

Troops open fire on protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, killing three

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.