Violence continues in Tahrir Square Link to this video
The US embassy in Cairo is investigating the detention of three US students accused of throwing petrol bombs at security forces in Tahrir Square.
The three, all students at the American University in Cairo, were arrested during clashes outside the interior ministry on Monday, authorities said.
They were identified as Luke Gates, a 21-year-old exchange student from Bloomington, Indiana, who attends Indiana University, 19-year-old Gregory Porter, of Drexel University, and Derrik Sweeney, a Georgetown University student from Jefferson City, Missouri.
Adel Saeed, a spokesman for the Egyptian general prosecutor’s office, told CNN: “The three boys were throwing Molotov cocktails, and had no passports on them when they were picked up. They have been questioned by the police and will be further investigated by the Cairo prosecutor.”
Egyptian state television showed footage of the three men standing against a wall, with pictures of their driving licences and ID cards spread out next to what it said were petrol bombs.
Further footage, allegedly taken in Tahrir Square, showed demonstrators – at least one of whom was wearing a mask – with Caucasian features, including a young man with blond hair.
Sweeney’s sister Nicole told the Guardian via email that her brother was being held at a courthouse rather than a prison.
She said: “The response from the state department has largely been one of ‘we’ll let you know when we know more’, but the only contact has been that initiated by my parents.
“They do know that he’s being detained at a courthouse, rather than a prison, which we assume is a good thing.”
Sweeney was an intern for the Republican congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer from February to May 2011, working in his Washington office. Luetkemeyer’s spokesman, Paul Sloca, said he had been in contact with the state department.
“Our primary concern is that he is safe and being treated fairly,” he said.
Sloco said Sweeney, who answered phone and attended meetings for Leutkemeyer, had come highly recommended and was “very outgoing, a good intern”.
Egypt‘s generals have claimed foreign intervention is behind some of the violence in Cairo. Since the Egyptian revolution began at the start of the year, thousands of foreign activists have flocked to Cairo in solidarity with the aims of the Arab Spring.
Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements, including in the UK, have issued statements of solidarity with Tahrir Square protesters. Occupy Wall Street voted at a general assembly to send 20 election observers to Egypt at a cost of $29,000 (£18,000).
The arrest of the three students was announced as Egyptians began flowing to Tahrir Square for a fourth day of protests, despite a crackdown by police in which at least 29 people have been killed.
Activists hoped to increase the number of protesters in the square, which was the epicentre of the revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.
The violence continued, with security forces, backed by military troops, firing volleys of teargas and rubber bullets to block protesters, who responded by hurling stones and firebombs. The two sides have been engaged in intense clashes since the unrest began on Saturday.
State TV reported that three people were killed in the Suez canal city of Ismailia, east of Cairo, overnight.
Hundreds of protesters arrived early on Tuesday to join several thousand who have been camping on Tahrir Square. The crowds hoisted a giant Egyptian flag and chanted slogans demanding that the generals immediately step down in favour of a civilian presidential council.
One man held a sign reading “ministry of thuggery” with photos of Mubarak, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the senior military ruler, the prime minister, Essam Sharaf, and others.
A few hundred young men nearby chanted “say it, don’t fear, the council must go” and “the people want to execute the field marshal”.
On Monday, the civilian cabinet of Sharaf submitted its resignation to the military council, a move that had been widely expected given the government’s perceived inefficiency and its almost complete subordination to the generals.
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Categories: The Western Press