Cabinet offers to resign as bloody confrontations leave at least 33 dead


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The Independent Online

The Egyptian cabinet offered its resignation last night as deadly riots, which once again have turned parts of central Cairo into a battlefield, continued into the evening, threatening the viability of next week's landmark elections and leaving at least 33 people dead.

Stone-throwing youths faced down riot police outside the American University of Cairo near Tahrir Square, as hundreds of protesters shouted chants calling for the downfall of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's de facto leader. "The army is at war with the Egyptian people," said Mustafa Karim, a protester in Cairo yesterday. "The people don't trust the Field Marshall and they don't trust the government."

The protesters won at least a partial victory with the cabinet's offer to resign, which followed the exit of Culture Minister, Emad Abu Ghazi. A group of diplomats issued a statement condemning the way the latest protests have been handled. There were conflicting reports over whether the resignation had been accepted.

Last night's trouble came after hours of bloody confrontations, which continued throughout the early hours of yesterday morning. Volunteer doctors working in makeshift field hospitals close to Tahrir Square struggled to cope as hundreds of badly injured activists were brought in.

One doctor, Haytham Magdy, said he had seen a protester whose face had been run over by a vehicle. "I think it must have been a military car," he said. "The bone in his face was badly broken."

At one point the police appeared to fire live rounds in the direction of protesters. A group of five men could then be seen carrying a middle-aged man.

An Amnesty report released yesterday claimed that Egypt's ruling generals had retrenched dictatorial power for their own ends and were guilty of "crushing" the February revolution.

Doubts and confusion are also swirling about the viability of parliamentary elections, which the ruling Military Council is still insisting will take place next week.

Trouble has continued in Egypt since the departure of Mubarak. On 27 May, a "Day of Anger" brought thousands to Tahrir Square. And some 3,000 protesters attacked the Israeli embassy in September.