At least five people have been killed in violence that erupted in
Cairo's Tahrir Square overnight, with supporters of Egypt's President
Hosni Mubarak opening fire on anti-government protesters.
The Egyptian military has had the square ringed with tank squads to try
to keep order, but the troops did not intervene to prevent the deadly
"Most of the casualties were the result of stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks," Egypt's health minister said.
"At dawn today there were gunshots. The real casualties taken to
hospital were 836, of which 86 are still in hospital and there are five
dead," Ahmed Samih Farid told state television.
"People are too tired to be terrified," Al Jazeera television quoted a 33-year-old woman in the square as saying.
But she said protesters who launched an unprecedented challenge to Mr
Mubarak's 30-year-rule last week would not give up. "We cannot go back
at this point."
Supporters of Mr Mubarak armed with rocks, sticks and firebombs charged
into the square in what appeared to be an orchestrated assault against
protesters who had defied an overnight curfew to continue demonstrating
against the government.
Amid the mounting chaos, the US State Department issued a stark travel
warning for US citizens in Egypt, urging those who want to leave to
"immediately" head for the airport, adding that any delay was "not
"All remaining US citizens who wish to depart Egypt on a US government
flight and who are able to do so should immediately proceed to the HAJ
Terminal 1, Hall 4 as soon as possible on February 3," the State
Department said in a statement, referring to the location within Cairo's
"Additional US government flights after Thursday are unlikely."
Mr Mubarak had promised on Tuesday to surrender power in September,
angering protesters who want him to quit immediately and prompting the
United States to say change "must begin now".
After days of peaceful protests the situation became violent when
supporters of the president, throwing petrol bombs, wielding sticks and
charging on camels and horses, attacked protesters in Tahrir Square in
what many saw as a government-backed attempted crackdown.
The Interior Ministry denied the accusation, and the government rejected
international calls to end violence and begin the transfer of power.
In pointed comments, a senior US official said it was clear that
"somebody loyal to Mubarak has unleashed these guys to try to intimidate
At least 145 people have been killed so far and there have been protests
across the country. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said
up to 300 people may have died.