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egypt-wounded-clashes.jpgChaos reigned Monday in Cairo's Tahrir Square as demonstrators battled security forces, marking three days of bloody violence in Egypt's capital.

In the same spot where demonstrators launched protests 10 months ago that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak, there is now a sense of deja vu as protesters stand up against the military in charge.

Twenty-two protesters have died and 1,700 have been wounded, a spokesman for the ministry of health said.

Among police, 102 officers and conscripts have been injured, with wounds ranging from gunshots to burns from Molotov cocktails, an interior ministry spokesman said. One officer has a critical bullet wound to his head.

"People here feel that they have been cheated and that they have moved from an autocracy to a military dictatorship," protester Mosa'ab Elshamy said. "So they are back to the square -- back to square one -- to ask for their rights once again."

The military said it is "extremely sorry" for the events under way, and stressed that it will be handing over power when a new government is in place. Egypt's parliamentary elections are set to take place November 28.

But demonstrators are upset about a proposed constitutional principle that would shield the military's budget from scrutiny by civilian powers. They worry that the military would be shaped as a state within a state.

Some protesters shout that they believe Mubarak is running the military council and the entire country from prison.

Doctors at Cairo's Tahrir Square said injuries in the latest fighting include gunshot wounds, excessive tear gas inhalations and beatings to the head.

"I have received many people suffering of convulsions," said Tarek Salama, a medic in a makeshift hospital in Tahrir Square. "Lots of gunshot wounds from rubber and bird shots. And I have seen two cases who have been hit with actual live bullets."

On Monday, CNN saw police use tear gas and rubber bullets in attempts to disperse the protesters, who responded with Molotov cocktails. Both sides threw rocks as well.

CNN saw captured protesters beaten and shocked with Taser-like devices.

CNN also saw bullet holes and a pool of blood. Witnesses said one young man was shot from a nearby building. Witnesses showed CNN mobile phone footage of the wounded young man before an ambulance picked him up.

But the police efforts did not show any success in dispersing the crowds, who shouted "freedom."

In fact, more and more protesters appeared to be joining the efforts.

Protesters started fires in the streets, burning tires and a car.

Officials have said they will allow the protests, but that they must be peaceful.

On its official Facebook page, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement about the "extremely urgent" developments that could affect the country's "stability and security."

The armed forces are "extremely sorry for what the events have led to," the statement said, and called on all political parties and coalitions "to come and work together."

The armed forces also assigned the government to investigate "the reasons behind the incidents," according to a CNN translation.

The SCAF stressed its commitment to "handing over power to an elected, civil administration" and said it does not "seek to prolong the transitional period in any way" in which it is in control.

Mohamed Higazi, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, said the government will continue dialogue on reaching a constitution that ensures the election of a civilian government.

Some on the streets expressed little confidence in the current government, saying there had been little progress since Mubarak's ouster.

"Nothing has changed," said Zahra, one protester. "We've gone backwards. The military council is garbage. Mubarak is still alive and well, and the people are dying."

Fighting erupted Saturday when police worked to clear Tahrir of people who remained after massive protests on Friday. Thousands have denounced a plan for a constitution that would protect the military from public oversight.

Clashes between protesters and police also reportedly broke out in the cities of Suez and Alexandria.

Hisham Qasim, a publisher and human rights activist, said that Egypt can't afford anything -- including another revolt -- that could further hamper its already struggling economy. The nation's once thriving tourism industry continues to struggle, while unemployment remains high.

"The poverty belt is now the ticking time bomb in Egypt," Qasim said. "It threatens that what we went through (earlier this year) could be repeated. ... I don't think we'll survive a second uprising in the span of 10 years."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/21/world/africa/egypt-protests/index.html?hpt=iaf_c1

Tag(s) : #Afrique de l'Ouest