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Army warns defiant Cairo protesters

Thousands of demonstrators barricaded themselves in Cairo's central square, infuriated after soldiers stormed their protest camp killing at least one person and injuring 71 others.

The protesters demanded the removal of the military council ruling Egypt.

In a sign the confrontation could escalate, the military warned that it will clear Tahrir Square of protesters "with all force and decisiveness" for life to get back to normal.

The warning could herald a repeat of the scene before dawn, when hundreds of soldiers, including a highly trained parachute unit, swarmed into Tahrir Square, firing in the air and beating protesters with clubs and shocking some with electrical batons.

Troops dragged away protesters, while others staggered away bleeding from beatings and gunshot wounds. Witnesses reported two killed, though the Health Ministry insisted there was only one death.

"It was like a horror movie," said Mohammed Yehia, an activist and university student from the Nile Delta who was among the protesters.

The confrontation marks a dangerous juncture in Egypt's three months of upheaval.

When long-time president Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11 after 18 days of mass demonstrations against his authoritarian rule, protesters hugged and kissed soldiers on tanks in Tahrir Square, praising them for protecting their "revolution."

Most welcomed the handover of power to the Armed Forces' Supreme Council, a body of top generals headed by Defence Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

In the weeks since, tensions have risen. Protest leaders have been critical of the military council's handling of the post-Mubarak transition and the public has been angered by its failure to prosecute the former president. But both sides also worked to stay on good terms.


From Belfast Telegraph