EGYPT: Protesters ordered to disband, signaling possible crackdown

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State-run Egyptian television broadcast an order late Wednesday for all protesters to leave central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, signaling a potential crackdown by security forces on the 9-day-old challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s continued rule.

Neither the source of the order nor a deadline for compliance was made clear in the broadcast, which followed the most violent confrontation to date between supporters and opponents of Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Pro-government forces riding horses and camels stormed the protesters around dusk, igniting a melee of rock-throwing and firebombing.

In a separate state announcement, Egyptian Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said one person was killed and about 600 injured in the clashes punctuated with gunfire and scattered flares from Molotov cocktails.

State TV broadcast an order for all protesters to leave Tahrir Square because of ‘provocative elements throwing firebombs.’ It did not clarify the source of the order.


The United States and other Western governments have condemned the violent turn of events in Egypt and urged Mubarak’s government to refrain from forceful repression of peacefully demonstrating opponents.


Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei says he fears coming ‘bloodbath’

White House denounces violent turn of Cairo protests

Government moves to restore normalcy fail as protests, clashes intensify

-- Carol J. Williams