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Egyptians defy army bid to disperse them from Tahrir Square

At least one person died and over a dozen were injured after Egyptian forces broke up hundreds protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Demonstrators rallied to demand the prosecution of the former president.

A protester in Cairo on April 9, 2011

Soldiers beat protesters with batons and fired into the air

Hundreds of Egyptians defied soldiers who tried to disperse them from Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday night and vowed on Saturday to keep protesting until former President Hosni Mubarak was held to account. They also expressed their grievances against the interim military council currently governing Egypt.

At least one person died and at least a dozen more were injured in the clashes between military forces and protesters.

Some demonstrators threw rocks at a burnt army vehicle, in protest at the military's use of force to try to drive them out of the square. Guns were fired into the air as the army sought to clear the area.

Thousands of Egyptians had gathered in the square after Friday prayers in the biggest rally in over a month for what they called a "Day of Trial and Cleansing." But military police moved in after the curfew, set from 2 a.m. till 5 a.m. On Saturday morning, hundreds of protesters were still in the square, but there was no sign of the army.

"We will not leave here again until they take tangible steps to put Mubarak and high officials on trial," Mohamed Abdul-Karim, a 31-year-old lawyer, told Reuters news agency.

Protesters were apparently joined by dissident army officers and chanted slogans against the head of the military, Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi, the de facto head of state in Egypt.

Tahrir Square on the night of February 10

Tahrir Square became a symbol of the anti-government protests in Egypt

Tahrir Square was the epicenter of 18 days of demonstrations which forced the resignation of Mubarak on February 11 after three decades in power. Egypt is now run by an interim military council. Mubarak is in internal exile in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The military has enjoyed broad backing since it took control of the country, but many are becoming impatient that no legal action has been taken against Mubarak or any of his senior aides. They are alleged to have pocketed billions of dollars of taxpayer's money.

However, many ordinary Egyptians are tired of the protests and want an end to the disruption to allow the economy to recover.

Military leadership blames "elements outside the law" for the disturbances and loss of life, according to state media agency MENA.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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