Thugs attack protesters near Cairo security HQ
CAIRO - Armed civilians attacked hundreds of Egyptian protesters outside the state security headquarters in Cairo on Sunday, as the army fired warning shots and used sticks to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.
Around 500 protesters tried to storm the headquarters of the powerful security apparatus in Cairo's Lazoghly neighbourhood and were attacked with knives and rocks by men in civilian clothing, the witness said.
"The protesters were attacked by the thugs that are brought out at all the demonstrations. They had large knives and were throwing large rocks straight at the protesters," he said.
The army then began to beat the crowd with sticks, firing a series of warning shots into the air, forcing protesters to flee into side streets, he said.
"The protesters are now really angry and heading to Tahrir Square," the epicentre of anti-regime protests that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak in February, the witness said.
A security official confirmed that men in civilian clothing had attacked the protesters outside the Lazoghly building.
The clashes come as new Interior Minister Mansur al-Issawi took office to replace the despised Habib al-Adly, who is facing trial on corruption charges.
On Saturday several state security buildings around the country were stormed, as protesters tried to retrieve files kept on the population by the powerful regime apparatus that monitors political dissent.
Protesters who brought about Mubarak's ouster have called for the abolition of the State Security Investigations, or SSI, which counts at least 100,000 employees and a large network of informants, a security official said.
Mubarak resigned on February 11, handing power to a military council that has vowed to pave the way to a free and democratic system, pledging to bring to justice all those found guilty of abuse.