26.02.2011 - Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse activists demanding the cabinet appointed by Hosni Mubarak be purged by the country's new military leaders, protesters said.
Thousands had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to celebrate two weeks since Mubarak's removal and remind the country's new rulers, who have promised to guard against "counter revolution" of the people's power.
Egyptian protesters gather to demand Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi step down during demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011.
In the gathering in the epicentre of the uprising against the president, activists urged the military, who had promised there would be "no return to the past" of the Mubarak era, to overhaul the cabinet and install a team of technocrats.
But after midnight, protesters said the military fired in the air, shut off the light from lampposts, and moved in on protesters to force them to leave the square, in an unusual use of military force against protesters since Mubarak's fall.
"Military police used batons and tasers to hit the protesters," Ahmed Bahgat, one of the protesters, told Reuters by telephone. "The military is once again using force. But the protesters have not responded."
Protesters left the main centre but many had gathered in surrounding streets, another protester, Mohamed Emad, said. Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground but it was not clear if they were wounded or how seriously.
"I am one of thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them," said protester Ashraf Omar.
The army officers who moved in on protesters in Tahrir, donned black masks to cover their faces to avoid being identified by protesters, Omar said.
Military buses were parked in the square to take in protesters that were caught, Mohamed Aswany, one protester who had decided to stage a sit-in, told Reuters by telephone.
Protesters were heard yelling and shouting as they were chased down side streets to Tahrir.
"It is a cat-and-mouse chase between the army and the people," Omar said. "There is no more unity between the people and the army."
"They were using tasers and sticks to beat us without any control. I thought things would change. I wanted to give the government a chance but there is no hope with this regime," Omar said.