Protesters Say Egypt Military Used Force to Disperse Them

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Reuters

Protesters Say Egypt Military Used Force to Disperse Them

Claims that soldiers fired in the air and used batons to disperse Tahrir Square protests over Mubarak-appointed cabinet

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Protesters in Tahrir square have claimed that the Egyptian military used shots in the air and batons to disperse the crowd.

Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse activists demanding the cabinet appointed by Hosni Mubarak be purged by the country's new military leaders, protesters said.

Thousands had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to celebrate two weeks since Mubarak's removal and remind the country's new rulers, who have promised to guard against "counter revolution" of the people's power.

In the gathering in the centre of the uprising against the president, activists urged the military, who had promised there would be "no return to the past" of the Mubarak era, to overhaul the cabinet and install a team of technocrats.

After midnight, protesters said the military fired in the air, shut off the light from lampposts, and moved in on protesters to force them to leave the square.

"Military police used batons and tasers to hit the protesters," Ahmed Bahgat, one of the protesters, told Reuters by telephone. "The military is once again using force. But the protesters have not responded."

Protesters left the main centre but many had gathered in surrounding streets, another protester, Mohamed Emad, said. Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground but it was not clear whether they were wounded or how seriously.

"I am one of thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them," said protester Ashraf Omar.

"They were using tasers and sticks to beat us without any control. I thought things would change. I wanted to give the government a chance but there is no hope with this regime," Omar said. "There is no use."

"I am back on the street. I either live with dignity or I die here."

Protesters say they want the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, the immediate release of political prisoners and the issuing of a general amnesty.

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