Tahrir Square battleground: ‘These people tried to slaughter us last night’

egyptian tank
Egyptian army tank in Tahrir Square An army tank moves into Tahrir Square to keep Mubarak supporters (top) separate from anti-government protesters. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo fight to hold square littered with bricks and burnt-out vehicles after night of bloodshed

Peter Beaumont and Jack Shenker in Cairo – guardian.co.uk, Thursday 3 February 2011 15.52 GMT

They were barely visible at first, a glimmer of tan clothing among the ranks of pro-Mubarak fighters lined on a low overpass above the entrance to Tahrir Square. It was from here that rocks, petrol bombs and bullets had been raining down on the anti-regime opposition defending their barricades below.

At 9am first one, then a second, and then dozens of Egyptian soldiers – the same military forces who had stood back and watched as last night’s bloodshed unfolded – finally appeared at this key strategic flashpoint and began driving back those on the bridge. Before them lay a no-man’s land littered with broken bricks and burnt-out vehicles that spoke of the extraordinary violence that had played out in the darkness.

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