Police arrested 73 people early Sunday morning after clearing several roadblocks at the entrances to Tahrir Square, allowing traffic to flow and ending a weeks-long sit-in.
Dozens of protesters gathered on the Qasr Al-Nile Bridge in response, blocking the bridge and setting tyres on fire.
Police were able to reopen the bridge and clear the tyres with the help of civil defence units.
“We are still coordinating with the Front for Defence of Egyptian Protesters but initial reports state that there have been between 73 to 120 arrests,” said Abdel Rahman, a field coordinator with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
He added that the detainees have been spread around several police stations including Qasr Al-Nile, Al-Zaher and New Cairo.
One famous protester, Mohamed Alian, was among those arrested. The elderly Alian, who holds the nickname “the father of the revolutionaries”, has been an ever-present figure in Tahrir Square demonstrations for the past two years.
He was taken to Al-Zaher police station alongside five other detainees.
Security officials told state-owned Al-Ahram the protesters were in possession of firearms, shotguns, teargas canisters, ammunition, knives, and Molotov cocktails.
Central Cairo Attorney General Hamdy Mansour said they would be charged with resisting the authorities and illegal possession of weapons.
“The roadblocks in Tahrir have been removed and traffic cleared without harming any of the protesters. Dozens or hundreds do not have the right to disrupt the lives of citizens,” said Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on his Twitter page.
He added that “protesting was an undeniable right of the Egyptian people” but that it should not lead to disrupting society and the lives of citizens.
At the time of reporting dozens of protesters had re-entered Tahrir Square, which lead to more clashes. Police retreated from the square to Mohamed Mahmoud Street.