SCAF denies using live ammunition or force against protesters

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CAIRO: The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) denied using live ammunition against protesters in Tahrir Square in a press conference on Saturday.

SCAF member, General Adel Umara, said that one fatality was reported among the protesters and 71 wounded. The initial autopsy showed that the protester was shot in the mouth, he added.

The military prosecution was investigating the incident to identify the perpetrator.

News agencies had reported two deaths during the raid on Tahrir Square early Saturday, citing medics.

Umara stressed that the army soldiers didn’t use force against the protesters and dispersed the crowds “peacefully” at 3 am to enforce a three-hour predawn curfew from 2 am to 5 am. The army had sent many warnings to the protesters in Tahrir square to leave before curfew, but to no avail, he added.

Most of the injuries were bruises resulting from the pushing and shoving that occurred between the armed forces and the protesters, he said.

General Ismail Etman, director of morale affairs sector and a member of the SCAF, added that some bruises were a result of the rocks thrown by protesters at the military.

Thousands of protesters closed off Tahrir square with barbed wire on Saturday and demanded the removal of SCAF, outraged by the military’s overnight raid on the protesters.

Etman said that the square would be cleared from the remaining protesters "with all force and decisiveness" for life to get back to normal. However, hundreds of protesters remained in the square Sunday morning.

Etman said that 42 were detained from Tahrir on Saturday including three foreigners and protesters dressed in military uniform.

The detainees were being investigated by the military prosecution, he continued, and those who are found guilty would be penalized, while the others would be released as soon as possible.

Umara said that eight people dressed in military uniform were among the detainees, but he couldn’t confirm whether they were military officers or merely posing as such.

Eight people claiming to be army officers dressed in uniform, joined tens of thousands of protestors in Tahrir Square on Friday, calling for the resignation of Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi and the prosecution of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The officers showed their military ID cards to the people in Tahrir Square to prove that they were not imposters and that they were still in military service.

Umara claimed that the people who stayed after curfew were thugs, not affiliated with the “honorable youth” who held the January 25 revolution.

"The safety and security of the armed forces is a red line that cannot be crossed," he said. "The protesters kept on occupying Tahrir Square, hindering citizens’ business, which shows they don’t belong to the honorable Jan. 25 youth."

Umara said that after the square was cleared from protesters at 4:30 am on Saturday, “a large number of "protesters came to Tahrir at 5:30 am with two automatic weapons and Molotov cocktails, and they attacked three military vehicles."

He added that until those “thugs” entered the square with weapons, there were no fatalities in the square.

Umara said that the protesters dressed in military uniform were held hostage at one point in a protest camp by other protesters in Tahrir square, in a bid to exchange them for political detainees.

He added that military sources confirmed that there were people inside Tahrir affiliated with “a well known figure”, working against the revolution and attempting to divide the people and the army. He refused to elaborate.

An earlier army statement had named National Democratic Party member Ibrahim Kamal as responsible. His name was mentioned before in connection with the attack on protesters with camels and horses on Feb. 2. He was later arrested.

The generals called on the people to support the army in achieving stability in the country and to avoid rumors that would cause a rift between the people and the army.

Umara said that Egypt’s tourism industry was losing $1 billion every month. He added that Egypt’s tourism industry and economy needed to be revived and that could only be achieved through stability.

He stressed that the army has drawn its legitimacy from the people and it wants to establish a civil, modern, democratic state.


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