Egypt Police Break Up Largest Protest Since Mubarak's Ouster

Police surround hundreds of thousands of people rallying Friday night in Tahrir Square; fire shots and beat crowd with tasers and batons as 2 A.M. curfew broken.

Military police dispersed hundreds of protesters remaining in Cairo's Tahrir Square from one of the biggest demonstrations since Hosni Mubarak was ousted using tasers and batons late on Friday night, a witness said.

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied during the day to pile pressure on the interim military rulers to meet demands including the prosecution of Mubarak.

Egypt protest in Tahrir square April 8, 2011.

But after the curfew, set from 2 A.M. to 5 A.M., military police and state security officers surrounded the square, fired shots in the air, used tasers and batons and arrested protesters to break up the crowd, a witness told Reuters by telephone.

"They are moving in on us with very aggressive force, I can see people running in every direction," Mohamed Fahmy, 29, said, while the sound of screaming and gun shots, which he said were fired by the police into the air, sounded in the background.

The military has enjoyed broad support since it took control of the country on Feb. 11, but complaints against its rule are growing. Attention is now focused on the perceived tardiness of legal measures against Mubarak and his entourage.

Mubarak and his family have been living in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since he left Cairo. The military has said the 82-year-old president, himself a former military
officer, is banned from leaving the country.

"The corrupt perpetrators must be held accountable for what they have done, that is why we are here," Fahmy said.

The military had forcibly dispersed protesters before from Tahrir Square, the main theatre for the demonstrations that swept Mubarak from power, leaving the army led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi in charge.

In that case, the military apologised the next day, saying there had been no order to assault the protesters and called the incident unintentional.