Photographers' Blog

Under attack in Tahrir Square

November 29, 2012

Cairo, Egypt

By Amr Abdallah Dalsh

I was on assignment on the Turkish-Syrian border when I was asked to come back home to help the Cairo team as the situation in Egypt developed with protests and clashes.

I arrived in Cairo early yesterday morning and planned to go to Tahrir square later in the day. When I reached the scene of the clashes near the square, which has witnessed a lot of clashes in the last few days, I found some members of the riot police coming close to reaching protesters. The police and the protesters normally do a tit for tat (cat and mouse) sort of thing. Police sirens blared. Usually the protesters run away quickly when they hear that sound. It was obvious that there were about five or six riot police to the left of the vehicle and they wanted to hit back at protesters with stones the protesters were hitting them with. Those few riot police entered a building near the protesters.

The police vehicle started to go back, I guess without noticing that they’d left some of their officers behind. The protesters, noticing that those few police were far from their group, started to beat them very hard. I heard the protesters saying they’d got three of them, but I only saw two. The protesters threw everything they had at them – stones, glasses, logs – they were also slapping their faces. I could see blood coming out of policemen’s head. The protesters also started stripping them of their clothes and their vests and shields, helmets and shoes.

A few protesters tried to defend the policemen and told the other protesters that they should leave them alone but the rest of the protesters continued to beat them saying: “let’s take our rights”.

During the attack, the rest of the police who had left could hear the protesters saying “beat him, beat him.” They realized that they had comrades in the hands of the protesters so they returned with three vehicles and started to throw a lot of tear gas to disperse the protesters.

The people who had defended the police took one of them and handed him back to his colleagues. The other escaped from the tear gas and went in another direction. He wasn’t wearing any shoes and was running over broken glass on the road. His colleagues began to carry him.

Afterwards, I saw the protesters proudly showing the police from a distance that they had got some of their shields and vests. They shouted very bad words and slogans against the Interior Ministry and President Mohamed Mursi.

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