CAIRO: Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the seaport city of Suez on Saturday, firing tear gas and live rounds, said several residents who participated in the demonstrations.
In a rare show of dissent, hundreds of Egyptians in Suez took to the streets for the second night in a row heeding an online call for dissent against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
But they were met with security forces barricading streets and deploying armoured vehicles in downtown Suez centring on Al-Arbaeen Street.
“There were about 200 or so people. They (security forces) fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets and there were injuries“, a man who took part in the demonstration but declined to be named told AFP.
Another resident, who also preferred to remain anonymous, said the tear gas was so thick it had reached her apartment block a few kilometres away from the turbulent downtown area.
“My nose started burning up. The smell was seeping through the balcony. I also saw some youth run and hide in our street“, the woman said.
A security source said there were dozens of protesters but could not provide further information about the authorities’ response.
The outbreak of protests came on the back of an online call posted by Mohamed Aly, a disgruntled exiled Egyptian businessman in Spain, accusing Sisi of rampant corruption and demanding he be toppled.
The country effectively banned protests under a 2013 law and a state of emergency is still in full effect.
Under the rule of general-turned-president Sisi, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.
But that did not deter hundreds of Egyptians from heading to Tahrir Square – the epicentre of the 2011 revolution – in the capital Cairo on Friday.
At least 74 were arrested in Cairo alone, a security source said, and AFP journalists reported that security forces fired tear gas to quell the small-scale demonstrations.
Other demonstrations in several cities, including Suez, also took place where anti-Sisi slogans were loudly chanted in a show of defiance against his administration.
Clips of the Suez confrontations have been widely shared on a still trending hashtag but authorities have not commented yet on the unfolding melee. - AFP