Egyptian protesters killed in clashes with security forces
Sunday 13 November 2011
Clashes between Egyptian security forces and protesters have left at least two civilians dead, following major demonstrations across the country.
In Damietta, a port town where the Nile meets the Mediterranean, the army used force to break up mass protests on Sunday which had brought the city to a standstill for several days. Local news reports indicated that at least two protesters were killed and 11 others injured during the violence. Witnesses told the Guardian that the death toll was considerably higher, but this could not be independently confirmed.
"The situation is very dangerous," said Shaaban ElBadahy, a teacher in Damietta. "Protesters have closed off all the ports and roads in the district and no one can enter or leave the city."
Residents were protesting against newly unveiled plans to expand the production of fertiliser in the area. An existing Egyptian-Canadian factory has been blamed for a series of environmental disasters including the depletion of local fish stocks, but its owners insist that they meet all relevant safety standards.
In Aswan, police used teargas against protesters angry over the killing of a local boat captain, who was shot dead by a police officer following an argument last week. Amid claims that protesters might try and shut down the power supply running from the Aswan dam to the rest of the country, the authorities declared a curfew and stepped up the security presence in Egypt's southern-most city.
The latest wave of violence adds further pressure on the military junta ahead of this month's parliamentary elections, with opposition to the ruling generals seemingly beginning to spread beyond Cairo and Alexandria and into rural areas.
On Sunday military prosecutors renewed the detention of two high-profile political prisoners, triggering further protests in the capital.
Alaa Abd El Fattah, a leading revolutionary figurehead, had his detention renewed for a further 15 days, meaning it is likely he will miss the birth of his first child who is due imminently. Maikel Nabil, a blogger who has now been on hunger strike for over 80 days, had his retrial adjourned to 27 November 27th and will remain in jail until then.
On Sunday evening demonstrators gathered at Cairo's Qasr el-Nil bridge over the Nile to express their rejection of the junta. The bridge was the location for one of the most significant street battles between protesters and police during the anti-Mubarak uprising earlier this year, and has become synonymous with revolutionary victory by the people over the security forces.
*Photo courtesy of Amr Nabil/Associated Press