Crisis in Egypt: Mubarak orders army to back police against unrest
Shot in the head: The moment Egyptian police gunned down an unarmed protester for throwing a rock
A protester tumbles to the ground as he is gunned down by police demonstrates the brutal reaction of the Egyptian regime as it tries to contain the unrest that is spreading across the country.
Mohamed Atef, 22, died instantly from a shot to the head as he demonstrated in the town of Sheikh Zoweid in northern Sinai. His friends rushed to his side and took him to get medical help but it was too late.
The shooting came as police fought protesters in Suez and Ismailia, two cities straddling the Suez Canal that separates Sinai from the rest of Egypt.
Today thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with police in Cairo, who fired rubber bullets into the crowds and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.
It was a major escalation in what was already the biggest challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year-rule.
Water cannons were used against pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei and his supporters as they joined the latest wave of protests after noon prayers.
Police also used batons to beat some of ElBaradei’s supporters, who surrounded him to protect him.
Galvanised by the mass demonstrations which toppled the authoritarian leader of Tunisia, Egyptians have planned to stage further protests after weekly prayers.
It comes after the Egyptian government shut down access to the internet in the country in a bid to stamp out unrest and text messaging services were also partially disabled.
On the side, president Hosni Mubarak sent troops backed by armored cars into Cairo and other Egyptian cities on Friday in an attempt to quell street fighting and mass protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule.
Mubarak declared a night-time curfew firstly in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, the epicenter of demonstrations in the last four days, then extended it to all cities. Demonstrators remained on streets in defiance of security forces, fires burned in several places in the capital and shots were heard.
Activists have been relying on social networking services including Twitter and Facebook to organise the protests.
Police clashed with mobs of protesters in Suez – the centre of some of the most violent demonstrations – this morning, firing tear gas at crowds who hurled stones and petrol bombs.
Waves of protesters attacked a police station in the city and the fire station was set alight.
Six protesters have been killed so far in the clashes, including one who was shot dead by security forces in the north of the Sinai region yesterday.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including at least eight senior officials of the opposition group, were arrested overnight.
A security source said authorities had ordered a crackdown on the group.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned to Egypt from Vienna yesterday, has called for Hosni Mubarak to resign and said he would join the protests.
U.S.-based internet monitoring firm Renesys said the total shut-down earlier today was ‘unprecedented in internet history’.
It said: ‘Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the internet’s global routing table.
‘The Egyptian government’s actions tonight have essentially wiped their country frmo the global map.’
An elite special operations counterterrorism force has been deployed by the government in strategic locations in Cairo, including central Tahrir Square, to deter protesters.
The U.S., a major donor in Egypt, has responded cautiously to the protests.
President Barack Obama avoided signs he was abandoning support of Mubarak, but made it clear he sympathised with demonstrators.
‘I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform – political reform, economic reform – is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt,’ he said.
‘You can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.’
ElBaradei and other opposition figures said the government exploits the Islamist opposition to justify authoritarianism.
The Muslim Brotherhood has kept a low profile during the protests, although supporters were expected to join today’s demonstrations.
The government has accused it of planning to exploit the youth protests for its ‘hidden agendas’.
Egyptians are frustrated over surging prices, unemployment and a government that tolerates little dissent.
ElBaradei, 68, a former head of the UN nuclear watchdog who has campaigned for change in Egypt since last year, said: ‘I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act.’
Source: The DailyMail