Anti-government protesters swarmed over army trucks and armoured vehicles on Sunday to stop a move by troops to squeeze the area they have occupied in central Cairo for more than a week.
The army wants to persuade protesters to leave Tahrir Square and the surrounding area, a traffic hub in downtown Cairo, to allow life to get back to normal after near economic paralysis.
(A protester chants anti-government slogans next to an Egyptian army tank at Tahrir Square in Cairo.)
Witnesses said soldiers fired in the air after protesters, angered by the move after a day marked by a mostly festival atmosphere, crowded around the vehicles near the Egyptian Museum.
"The coward is a coward and the brave are brave and we will not leave the square," Sameh Ali, a protester in his 20s, said.
(Protesters chant anti-government slogans near an Egyptian army tank at Tahrir Square in Cairo.)
The army, which has said it would not use force against protesters, tightened access into the zone on Saturday, limiting people's ability to join in. A cordon of soldiers created a space in the middle of the traffic hub, separating the protesters near the museum from the rest.
Protesters slept in the tracks of tanks and on the ground in front of them on Saturday to stop the soldiers moving.
(Muslims pray during a break in anti-government demonstrations at Tahrir Square in Cairo.)
"There is a lot of doubt on the part of the protesters towards the army," an army officer, who did not want to be named, told Reuters on Sunday.
"We do not want them to sleep in the tracks," he added, saying soldiers were putting up barbed wire up to stop them.
Protesters have bedded in for the long haul in the square, and are fearful of more attacks by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, heightening the agitation when gunfire is heard.
(An opposition supporter rests by barricades on the front line near Tahrir Square in Cairo.)
Mubarak partisans staged an attack on Wednesday with knives and whips, some of them charging in on horses and camels, and leaving 11 dead and more than 1,000 wounded in the battle between the two sides.
Gasser, a 35-year-old protester, said: "The army fired to force us to move back. They want us to be in the square only ... This is our land, we can stand wherever we want."
Last Mod: 07 Şubat 2011, 14:02