CAIRO — Several thousand supporters
of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and
wielding whips, attacked anti-government protesters as Egypt’s upheaval took a
dangerous new turn.
In chaotic scenes, the two sides
pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their
The turmoil was the first
significant violence between supporters of the two camps in more than a week of
It erupted after Mubarak went on national television
the night before and rejected demands he step down immediately and said he
would serve out the remaining seven months of his term.
Nearly 10,000 protesters had massed
again in Tahrir on Wednesday morning, rejecting Mubarak’s speech as too little
too late and renewed their demands he leave immediately.
Those calling for Mubarak to go
have been out in Cairo and many other cities for more than a week, and they
drew by far their largest crowd on Tuesday when at least a quarter million
packed the central Tahrir Square and the downtown area around it.
Hundreds of thousands more have
turned out in other cities across this nation of 80 million.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the
anti-government protesters grabbed Mubarak posters from the hands of the supporters
and ripped them.
The confrontations began just hours
after a military spokesman went on national television and asked the protesters
to disperse so life in Egypt could go back to normal.