A day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not seek reelection but declined to step down on the spot (Wire covers reaction here), protests in central Cairo are heating up. Reuters reports violence erupting between Mubarak opponents and Mubarak supporters: "People fought each other with sticks and stones
while troops surrounding the square made no attempt to intervene,
This is what Twitter is for. We've sifted through to find the latest from reporters and Cairo residents on the ground as well as from key commentators and Middle East specialists watching from afar. Here's how an incredibly tense few hours unfolded Wednesday, complete with photos, Al Jazeera English footage, and more.
From Joshua Hersh, reporter for The Daily:
Total pandemonium at makeshift clinic in Tahrir Square. Dozens of head wounds #egypt
The BBC's Martha Kearney brings us the view from opposition leader El-Baradei:
The Atlantic's own Graeme Wood recently touched down in Cairo and is now walking through the streets tweeting photos as he goes:
Just got serious. Riot. Stones
Many injuries. Someone just chucked a car's bumper like forty feet
Mubarak crowd now dominant well past museum. Headed into tahrir. http://yfrog.com/h3w11cvj
The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof doesn't think the new developments are accidental:
Very messy in Tahrir right now. Clashes. Could be a bad day. Looks like Mubarak says: you challenge me, you pay a price.
National Review's Jim Geraghty makes a good point:
The Mubarak mob's assault on CNN's Anderson Cooper will make Egypt a big story to millions of Americans who tuned out so far...
Andrew Exum from the Center for a New American Security is checking coverage between the Arabic and English versions of Al Jazeera for those who can't do it themselves:
After watching al-Jazeera Arabic for 15 minutes, I can confirm that those of you watching AJE are not missing anything. Roughly equal.
So much for those great photos Graeme Wood was tweeting--as a Guardian reporter very dramatically showed a few days ago, there's some pretty serious occupational hazard here:
Beaten (lightly), had camera stolen by secret police at Egyptian Museum. #idliketofileacomplaint
The Atlantic's Max Fisher, watching Al Jazeera, notices something worrisome:
Gunshots audible in background in Al Jazeera English broadcast
Can anyone confirm is those shots are live fire?
NONTWEET: Meanwhile, German paper Die Zeit's liveblog on the developments in Egypt reports that "the E.U. has called on Mubarak to produce political change as quickly as possible." The E.U. spokeswoman Catherine Ashton is demanding to see movement, and soon.
We return to Andrew Exum, who notices another tweeter informing him of a slight modification to a familiar restaurant:
Crazy. A restaurant I used to go to is now a freaking field hospital. RT @Zeinobia: A field hospital at At Koshri Al Tahrir
It's not looking good for foreign journalists, as we see from Gulf News reporter Abbas Al Lawati's disturbing series of tweets:
Just saw a foreign journalist being chased by a mob with weapons. He was alone. They got him. God help him
Just heard the first ambulance, hours after clashes started
Protesters are hunting down Al Jazeera journos. I keep having to clarify that I'm not one of them
Just a reminder of why it's hard to restore order:
The Army is in a tough position. The people responsible for domestic law & order and crowd control in #Egypt are partisans in the riot.
Confirmation of Max Fisher's worries--those were, indeed, guns fired in Tahrir Square. The video from Al Jazeera English:
Die Zeit's liveblog helpfully points readers to the Egyptian blogger Zeinobia's Twitter feed, with constant coverage and retweets in Arabic and English. A few details from the past few hours, including one of the most bizarre and disturbing tweets yet:
Help Egypt , Help us I am going to cry they are killing the protesters , they are using camels and horses
Mubarak's thugs are trying to attack Al Shorouk newspaper HQ
ElBaradei is on Al Jazeera and he is fine
Here's some confirmation and an image of that camels-and-horses tweet from Zeinobia. Click to see the camels.
My view when the Tahrir Square rock throwing first began. http://ow.ly/i/7LHa
Nick Kristof, on the ground, has reports every bit as grim as those of the other Western journalists:
In my part of Tahrir, pro-#Mubarak mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs, very menacing.
Joshua Herst has some more bad news:
Protester calls to report that the square is entirely blocked off by clashes or stand offs. "Its a warzone in here. There is no way out"
If the pro Mubarak forces are indeed breaking into the square, lots of people will die. Protesters were basically having a sit in up to now.
As mentioned earlier, Anderson Cooper's in the melee as well. Here are some of his tweets:
Got roughed up by thugs in pro-mubarak crowd..punched and kicked repeatedly. Had to escape. Safe now
Its getting really bad in front of egyptian museum
It sounds like Greg Carlstrom for Al Jazeera, who reports having been chased by angry mobs, was also in the middle of the action:
The army largely stood by; when things got tense on Qasr al-Nil, soldiers retreated into their tanks. Pro-Mubarak crowd climbed on top.
Ambulances haven't been able to reach the wounded in Tahrir Square, and there are surely hundreds of people with serious injuries.
The Army Attempts to Restore Order
A columnist for The National reports what might be good news:
Al Arabiya: Eyewitness: The army started to separate the NDP thugs & the peaceful protesters from each other
Some confirmation of earlier worries:
Al Arabiya reporter: The captured individuals who came on camels & horses have Interior Ministry ID cards. Al Jazeera reports the same.
Max Fisher looks at the reports and concludes:
This could be the beginning of a military intervention in Cairo http://bit.ly/fbhAu2