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Unexplained violence against Egyptian protesters

The New York Times is reporting on the new level of violence surrounding the protests in Egypt.  Pro-Mubarak protesters challenged the protests in Tahrir Square with Molotov cocktails, rocks, clubs, and knives.  Automatic gunfire was also heard in Cairo.  The number dead in the whole of the protest movement likely climbed by 50% over the past 36 hours.  The army has continued to steadfastly guard the Egyptian Museum, although they have now also taken up positions between the pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters.  The government is working hard to contest rumors that they played a part in producing the wave of attacks.  But

The violence on Wednesday and Thursday seemed to have hardened the protesters’ demands, going far beyond the ouster of Mr. Mubarak. “The people want the execution of the president,” some chanted. “Mubarak is a war criminal.”

One ominous development is the new targeting of foreign media and human rights workers.  The implication is that we have seen a preliminary crackdown and, once certain witnesses are chased off, a stronger crackdown will begin.  Still, the government maintains that it has no role in the violence, instead suggesting that wealthy pro-Mubarak citizens are privately financing the violence.

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