Posted at 09:56 AM ET, 11/23/2011

In Tahrir Square, after a moment of calm, battle begins anew

As Tahrir Square sees the fifth day of violent protests, The Post's Leila Fadel reported live from Tahrir Square.
An Egyptian protester using scrap metal as a shield takes cover from tear gas during clashes with security force. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

1:22 p.m. The question of tear gas


Protesters stand near tear gas during clashes with riot police. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Questions have begun to arise around the type of tear gas that has filled the square. Al-Jazeera quotes a rights group as saying some have died of suffocation after inhaling the gas and Time magazine’s Cairo correspondent reports that hospitals are getting a “flood” of tear gas injuries.

11:07 a.m. Live video from Tahrir Square shows chaos

Live footage from the scene shows the swelling crowds, chanting and marching:

10:50 a.m. Clashes start again

Just before nightfall clashes apparently resumed after a very brief respite from the fighting. Tear gas was fired and shots could be heard in the air as people ran from the direction of the Interior Ministry and more patients flowed into the makeshift field hospitals in the square.

“The violence hasn’t stopped. Those are just words and we’ve been listening to words for 30 years, since Mubarak’s time,” said protester Dalal Dessouky, 31, a flight attendant just before clashes resumed.

Truce short-lived and ppl getting gassed AGAIN in Mohd Mahmud st. Bonfires all over the street, ambulances wailing #tahrirWed Nov 23 15:36:55 via HootSuite

9:56 a.m. A calm over Tahrir Square

A calm settled over iconic Tahrir Square on Wednesday afternoon after religious sheikhs worked to broker a deal with riot police in the main front line of the battle.
An Egyptian protester wears a tear gas mask during clashes with riot police. (Mahmud Hamas/AFP/Getty Images)

On Mohammed Mahmoud Street, the street leading to the Interior Ministry, the sheikhs spoke to riot police, who retreated and were replaced by soldiers. In the square, thousands walked through with surgical masks to protect their faces from tear gas that lingered in the air. Vendors sold tea, roasted sweet potatoes and masks as protesters continued to call for Egypt’s military chiefs to leave.

In side streets leading to the square on one end and the interior ministry on the other, the army set up barricades of barbed wire, armored personnel vehicles and soldiers. A row of protesters stood a few hundred meters away near one army blockade, warning others not to approach to enforce the truce between security forces and demonstrators.

On Mohammed Mahmoud street, protesters chanted “Go back, go back” to anyone approaching the blockade. The riot police, the perpetrators of the worst violence over the past five days were nowhere to be seen. Despite the calm, Egyptians in the demonstrations continued to call for the immediate ouster of the military rulers. Outside the square, many Egyptians who had called the protesters thugs a few days ago now sympathized with them after seeing violent images of police and military police beating and shooting demonstrators and attacking them with tear gas.

“I came to watch, I don’t care about politics, but I know the people have the right to express their opinions freely,” said Magdi Aziz, a 22-year-old pharmacist who had not been to the protests before.

“Egyptian blood is being spilled. It’s still the January revolution. We’re going to turn it into Libya,” one man chanted to the melody of crowds clapping. “Oh martyr, who’s soul is resting, your right will be returned. Kill. Kill. Kill. Every bullet makes us stronger.”

It is the fifth day of protests in central Cairo as demonstrators call for an end to the military rule of Egypt. Despite concessions from the military leaders, including an earlier date set for elections, protesters remain in Tahrir Square.

For the first time in months, the protests did not remain peaceful, with at least 38 protesters dying in the clashes. The United Nations strongly condemned what it called the use of excessive force by security forces.

By and  |  09:56 AM ET, 11/23/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company