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Thursday, June 30, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Demonstrators in most violent clash with police since Mubarak's ouster

CAIRO — Egyptian protesters have again clashed with the nation's reorganized police force.


Police fired tear gas and stormed a demonstration by young Egyptians in the same Cairo square that spawned the protest movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February. The clashes took place on June 28 and June 29, and more than 1,000 people were injured, the Health Ministry said.

"There was no justification [for the protest] other than to undermine Egypt's safety and security in an organized plan that exploits the blood of the revolution's martyrs and sow division between the people and the security apparatus," the ruling Supreme Armed Forces Council said.

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This marked the most violent demonstration in Tahrir Square since the ouster of Mubarak, scheduled to face trial in August. Opposition sources said the reorganized Egyptian police also came out in full force to quell unrest, a role that had been given to the army for the first few months of the military regime.

"The people want the fall of the regime," protesters chanted.

The Interior Ministry acknowledged the police violence. A ministry statement said a riot was organized by unidentified stone-throwers who sought to march toward security headqaurters. Seven people were reported arrested.

"This constitutes a test for the youth of the revolution and its leaders," Prime Minister Issam Sharaf said.

The clash marked growing tension between the pro-democracy movement and the military regime, led by Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi. The escalation took place amid the defection of the Muslim Brotherhood from the opposition and its alliance with the new regime.

Opposition sources said the military regime appeared to be withdrawing from its commitment to democracy and accountability. On June 30, an Egyptian court postponed a verdict in the trial of two police officers charged with beating to death a 28-year-old man, Khaled Said, in 2010.

"His case highlights the widely shared belief that the Egyptian authorities are still not doing enough to deliver justice — not only for Khaled Said but for all those unlawfully killed and injured by the security forces during the mass protests earlier this year," Malcolm Smart, director of the Middle East program at Amnesty International, said.

"This belief is exacerbated by the slowness with which the authorities are handling trials of police officers accused of killing protesters during the uprising, when more than 800 died, and the fact that many of those facing trial have not been suspended from active duty and remain in positions where they can intimidate witnesses and subvert justice."

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