09.03.2011 - Attackers armed with knives and machetes on Wednesday waded into hundreds of pro-democracy activists in Cairo's Tahrir Square, witnesses said, as insecurity raged in post-revolutionary Egypt.
The protesters, remnants of the mass uprising that swept President Hosni Mubarak from power on Feb. 11, said the men had hurled rocks at them. State television showed footage of hundreds of people facing off, throwing rocks.
"A group of gangsters attacked us with stones, they seemed to be wanting us to leave the square," said Gamal Hussein, 60.
Later in the day, army officers were seen removing protesters' tents and asking them to leave the square, witnesses said. "The army decided to remove tents and clear the square," a military official said.
"Hundreds of men carrying knives and swords entered Tahrir," state television reported, as footage showed rocks being thrown and hundreds of activists scattering and diving for cover.
Tahrir Square was the symbolic heart of last month's uprising that forced Mubarak from office, and hundreds of pro-democracy activists remain camped out there to maintain pressure on the military regime that replaced him.
There were few signs of any security forces at the site, apart from two army tanks protecting the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities at the north end of the square, in the heart of the capital.
The clashes took place as the newly appointed cabinet met with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to propose a law criminalizing incitement to hatred, which could lead to the death penalty, state TV said.
The military rulers were struggling to bring calm on several fronts, as clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims in the working class area of Moqattam left 10 dead and scores wounded, the health ministry said.
Insecurity has been rife after police disappeared from the streets during protests that toppled Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for 30 years under emergency law.
Earlier the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition group, blamed diehards of Mubarak's regime for inciting violence -- a view widely shared across the country.