By Charlie Miller and Joel Gulhane
Central Security Forces supported by the army moved in to disperse the sit-in at Al-Nahda Square around 6am on Wednesday morning.
Eyewitnesses reported that a bulldozer began to dismantle the wooden structures in front of the sit-in, before moving on to assist the troops to clear the sandbag barricades leading to Al-Nahda. The security forces were reportedly in full riot gear: wearing gas masks, helmets and full body armour.
Amin Abu Hashem, a local resident, reported there were “not many” people who stayed to fight the incoming security forces, saying that some fled to the zoo and to the park opposite the sit-in. Those who stayed, he added, threw rocks at the advancing troops, who fired tear gas in return.
Another local resident said tear gas began being fired at 7am.
“I could hear birdshot being fired back and forth for about an hour,” he added.
The police formed a line on the Al-Gamaa Bridge and eyewitness saw one of them hit by a bullet from the direction of Al-Nahda Square. The police made an announcement over a loudspeaker informing the demonstrators that they were clearing the sit-in, and ordered them to leave peacefully.
The security forces allowed women and children to leave the sit-in, said the local resident.
Some of the other residents, however, caught at least four members of the sit-in who were fleeing, and handed them over to the police who arrested them and put them in a police transport vehicle.
Other locals began removing pro-Mohamed Morsi posters from around the sit-in amidst cheers. The police made another announcement thanking the residents and assuring them that the situation would be resolved soon.
Amin said he spoke to a number of people who supported the clearing. One, he said, had claimed: “They are all thugs who torched Churches, overturned police cars and set prisoners free on the January 25th Revolution. They deserve what they get,” referring to those gathered at the sit-in.
Around 3pm on Wednesday a gun battle took place inside Giza Zoo, with machine guns, AK-47s and shotguns fired. Sporadic gunfire was also heard throughout the afternoon in the surrounding area.