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EGYPT: Police use tear gas, fire shots as protesters gather outside Israeli Embassy

May 16, 2011 |  6:07 am

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Egyptian riot police fired tear gas and live ammunition at several hundred protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in the Cairo suburb of Giza late Sunday.

At least two dozen protesters were injured, a health ministry official told Egyptian state television. A security official told the Associated Press that one of the injured was in critical condition Sunday.

The protest followed calls on Facebook for a march on Israel on Sunday in solidarity with Palestinians marking Nakba Day, the anniversary of the displacement of Palestinians with the founding of Israel in 1948.

Demonstrators began by chanting slogans attacking Israel, calling for the Israeli Embassy to be closed and the nation's ambassador expelled, before burning an Israeli flag, officials said. Then they demanded police lower the Israeli flag atop the embassy and, when they refused, attempted to remove security barricades outside the building, a move police interpreted as an attack on the building, the health ministry official said.

Police responded by firing tear gas and gunshots into the air to disperse the crowd, the official said. Most of those injured suffered tear-gas inhalation.

After about two hours, police had dispersed the crowd, and the area outside the embassy was calm Monday morning as police continued to patrol the area.

The incident came a day after a group of mostly Coptic Christian protesters was attacked near downtown Cairo as Egyptian police looked on.

Egypt’s military government vowed last week to tighten security after violence between Copts and Muslims left 15 dead and scores injured in the Imbaba neighborhood.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: An Egyptian protester holds a Palestinian flag during clashes in front of the Israeli Embassy during a demonstration in Cairo. Credit: Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images

 

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