02/03/2011, 00.00
EGYPT

Clashes in Cairo from 5 to 10 deaths overnight. Mubarak's opponents will not give up

The battle between government supporters and protesters in Tahrir Square continues. The army begins to arrest people, no one knows from which side. The U.S. State Department asks Americans to leave immediately, while the political situation remains tense and confused. Large protest scheduled for tomorrow, “Friday of departure."

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Five to ten deaths the toll from a night of violence, still ongoing, between supporters and opponents of Mubarak in Cairo. The death toll from clashes in Egypt becomes more serious by the hour, ahead of the big anti-Mubarak protest organised for tomorrow, called by opponents "Friday of departure" in Tahrir square, still occupied by thousands of protesters. Much remains confused bout the political situation, which sees Mubarak, Vice President Omar Suleiman, the Nobel laureate ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in a difficult tug of war for succession, with the army, so far, on standby.

Health Minister Farid Ahmed Samih told state television five people died in clashes in Cairo following a shootout. The injured are 836, 86 those still hospitalized. Medical sources report that the death toll from clashes between antigovernment protesters and pro-Mubarak, continued throughout the night, and put the toll at ten deaths.

The most serious incidents took place around 4 am (local time). Shots fired at the demonstrators, from the “October 6” bridge, near Tahrir Square, claimed victims among the government opponents. The army, which has strengthened its presence on the ground, fired volleys into the air to scare off armed men who fired from cars travelling at high speed on the bridge. The soldiers then fired more warning shots in an attempt to quell the clashes that continued throughout the night with the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. The army carried out an unknown number of arrests this morning. The measure was taken "to avoid" further clashes. It is not clear whether they detained supporters or opponents of Mubarak.

The U.S. State Department has urged its citizens to leave Egypt "immediately". " 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," says an official statement. "Additional U.S. flights after Thursday are unlikely," said the State Department. America has stepped up its pressure on the Egyptian government. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called for an immediate start of the transition, and Republican Sen. John McCain called on Mubarak to resign. Mohamed ElBaradei, in a television interview, made reassuring statements, saying that after Mubarak of Egypt will not be hostile to the United States and Israel.

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