Africa

Working for the Clampdown

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Mubarak's thugs have arrived in Tahrir Square. The Washington Post reports:

Spot the cops!

Just before 3 p.m. (8 a.m. in Washington), dozens of pro-Mubarak riders on horseback and camelback charged into the square and began to beat anti-government demonstrators with whips and clubs.

Soldiers posted around the square did not immediately intervene….

Ahmed Diab, a 27-year-old a guitarist who has camped out in the square with pro-democracy forces for nine days, said the pro-government group appeared to be undercover police and Mubarak loyalists, likely paid to show up and create chaos.

"It's insanity. These are not Egyptians who are attacking," Diab said. "I'd rather be shot dead than see this happen again."

But Mohammed Shahad, who was in the pro-government group, said "Nobody told me to come here. Nobody paid me to come here."…

The government-controlled station then broadcast a printed message that read: "The armed forces call on the protesters to go home for the sake of bringing back stability."

Perhaps Shahad spontaneously decided to come to the melee on his own, but the Post notes that Mubarak's supporters were bused to the square. It also reports that "Those arriving on buses in support of the president were mostly men—a sharp contrast to the many families, women and children participating in the much larger anti-government protests."

On the bright side, Egyptians' Internet access has been restored.