04.03.2011 - CAIRO – Hundreds of Egyptian protesters attempted to storm a building belonging to the internal security service in Alexandria on Friday in an outpouring of anger at the agency blamed for some of the worst human rights violations during ousted President Hosni Mubarak's rule.
Officers inside the building opened fire on the crowd, injuring three demonstrators, according to a medic and one of the protesters.
Tensions remain high even as Egypt's military, which took control of the country after Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, takes steps to meet the protesters' demands before a promised return to civilian rule. One of the protesters' key remaining demands is for the dismantling of Egypt's State Security Agency.
Earlier Friday, crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square celebrated the military's choice of a new prime minister to replace the one Mubarak had appointed. The new premier, Essam Sharaf, was carried on the shoulders of demonstrators to a podium in the square from which he promised the estimated 10,000 people gathered there that he would do his best to meet their demands.
In Alexandria, where some of the uprising's worst violence occurred, around 1,000 protesters encircled the State Security Agency building after nightfall and demanded that the officers inside come out or they would storm the building. Several fire bombs were hurled and four police cars were set ablaze, though one protester insisted they were not to blame and only threw rocks.
Shots were fired at the crowd and three people were injured, said an ambulance medic who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to journalists.
"It was coming from inside the building," said protester Mahinour el-Masri. She said a friend was among the wounded and had been hit by gunfire in the stomach.
Protesters then stormed into the building and scuffled with riot police inside before military forces intervened and took control of the building. El-Masri said they found shredded documents and files inside.
The Interior Ministry denied officers fired on protesters and accused the crowds that entered the building of seizing weapons and holding guards hostage.
A smaller crowd also marched toward a State Security building in Cairo but was stopped by soldiers from getting close.