Exhausted and bloodied protesters milled around Cairo’s battle-scarred Tahrir Square as the sun rose on Thursday after a night of deadly street fighting with forces loyal to President Hosni Mubarak.
“Welcome to freedom town,” said a young man wearing a red jacket, his face tense as he checked IDs of those entering the square that has become the protest epicentre via barricades made of burnt-out cars and corrugated iron.
Thousands of wounded men wandered around, or slept in the foetal position on scant patches of grass, or chanted belligerent anti-regime slogans.
“The people want the butcher’s execution!” they shouted, demanding the fall of Mubarak’s regime on 10th day of protests.
The protesters detained pro-Mubarak militants, allegedly plainclothes police or members of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, in a metro station before handing them over to soldiers circling square.
At a makeshift clinic on Abdulmenem Riad Square, next to Tahrir Square, Dr Amr Bahaa said more than 1,000 people had been injured, dozens of whom lay slumped on the floor.
Another medic said four people were shot dead on Thursday morning, reportedly by pro-Mubarak activists trying to intimidate the mass revolt by shooting from a bridge.
On Wednesday, Mubarak supporters stormed the square, some on horse and camel back, kicking off battles with stones and petrol bombs that involved thousands and went on all night.
Many of the square’s paving slabs have been torn up and broken into fist-sized projectiles, which now carpet the area.
Wounded 11-year-old Mohammed Ghozlan and his father Khaled were at a field clinic opposite the world-famous Egyptian Museum having spent the night on the square.
“Don’t cry, don't cry, you're a hero,” Khaled told his son, who had a gash on the side of his head requiring four stitches.
“Every day we’ve been here. We’re not going anywhere. I have five children, if they all have to die it’s OK, we’re not leaving until he leaves,” he said referring to Mubarak, who has been in power for the past three decades.Doctor Mohammed Ismail, 34, has been treating the wounded in the capital.
“I want to say to Egyptians that our daughters and our sisters are here in this war and our men are sitting at home watching it on television. We are staying here until victory or death.”