Fighting downtown continues as Interior Ministry forces join the fray

The Interior Ministry’s Central Security Forces (CSF) joined the military on Sunday in its battle against protesters, which has been ongoing since early Friday morning.

The clashes are now concentrated on Sheikh Rihan Street, adjacent to Qasr al-Aini, a major downtown Cairo thoroughfare. CSF, military forces and plainclothed men on rooftops continue to exchange Molotov cocktails and rocks with protesters.

The street battle, which has led to 10 deaths so far, started when military forces violently dispersed a peaceful cabinet sit-in consisting of a few hundred protesters, which had been ongoing for over three weeks. The demonstrators were asking for the immediate transition of power to a civilian government.

Videos of protesters being dragged and brutally assaulted by members of the military spread on the internet, prompting thousands to head to Qasr al-Aini to join the battle, in which the military attacked with gunshots and rock-throwing while protesters countered with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

On Saturday, thousands marched to honor those who were killed on the previous day, and clashes were renewed in Tahrir Square and its peripheral streets.

The military built a wall across Qasr al-Aini Street last night in an attempt to confine the clashes.

Those engaged in the battle are enraged at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for the excessive force used against protesters during the dispersal of the sit-in and the beginning of the clashes. They hold the ruling military council responsible for the deaths and insist that it is the same, in practice, as former President Hosni Mubarak.

Dozens of people injured by rocks have been transported to a downtown field hospital since this morning.

Heated arguments are taking place throughout the area between protesters and citizens who support the military and are trying to convince them to leave.

Conspiracy theories are spreading among those who disagree with the protesters, with many arguing that they were hired to create chaos in the country.

“These are organized groups; when are you going to arrest them?” one man yelled at security forces close to the scene after arguing with protesters.

Moataz Abdel Fattah, a political scientist who resigned from the SCAF's advisory council to protest the recent violence, and activist Wael Ghoneim are on the scene trying to negotiate a ceasefire between protesters and security forces.

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