I had been there since 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Approximately 2,000 peaceful protesters were gathered in front of the ministry. They were all yelling “down with the military regime,” and demanding an immediate transition to a civilian government. I noted there were people from many different sides: there were liberals, Salafists, youths from the April 6 movement (LINK)… [According to other witnesses, the majority of protesters were supporters of Salafist politician Abou Ismail, who was disqualified from the presidential race by Egypt’s electoral committee]. Four armoured vehicles were stationed nearby. Interestingly, they did not budge during the attack.
“I saw five men fall to the ground, struck by bullets. One was a friend of mine”
At 1 a.m., about 100 “baltagiyas” [name given to the government’s henchmen under Hosni Mubarak’s reign] attacked the protesters with tear gas and with live bullets [on Twitter, there is much discussion among Egyptians about how civilians got their hands on tear gas, as it is usually wielded only by security forces]. Some had been lurking around the protesters for a while; others joined in for the attack. They were all dressed in civilian clothing, so they were not “officially” soldiers, but they were incredibly well armed [other witnesses also spoke of metal bars and clubs.] Meanwhile, the protesters that I saw were unarmed. All they did was throw rocks. [According to Egypt’s security forces, both sides threw Molotov cocktails.]
During the attack, I saw five men fall to the ground just a few feet away from me. They had been struck by bullets. One was a friend of mine. His name was Talaat, he was 20 years old and studied at Ain Shams University. The wounded were immediately taken to field hospitals set up nearby.