lunes, 19 de diciembre de 2011

Library fire in Egypt clashes destroys 'irreplaceable' 200-year-old documents

The new wave of bloody clashes between pro-democracy protesters and Egypt's security forces has left at least 10 people dead, including six by live ammunition -- even though the new prime minister denied that live fire was being used by his forces.
Meanwhile, 213-year-old Egyptian maps and historical manuscripts -- described as "irreplaceable" -- were destroyed after a library in Cairo was set ablaze during the clashes, officials said.

Among those killed in the escalating violence in central Cairo were two children, ages 12 and 14, and two others died from skull fractures caused by cement blocks, officials said. Also, 432 people have been injured since the latest unrest broke out Friday, said a spokesman for the Health Ministry, Dr. Hisham Sheeha.
Sheeha said six of the deaths were by live fire.

Also Saturday, disturbing video showing what looked to be security forces dragging, beating and partially undressing a female protester went viral on the Internet. In it, a woman's abaya and hijab are pulled away, exposing her bra, as a man stomps on her stomach.
CNN could not verify the authenticity of the video, which was distributed by the Reuters news agency.

Egypt's Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri, appointed by the military earlier this month, condemned the library attack, which he called an "arson committed by the protesters who portrayed no patriotism in protecting the symbols of the historical civilization of this nation." The 200,000-book library is called the Scientific Center.

Destroyed in the fire were the original manuscript of the "description of Egypt" and "irreplaceable maps and historical manuscripts preserved by many generations since the building of the Scientific Center in August 1798 during the French Campaign," Ganzouri said in a statement.
Egypt lost a piece of "its national treasure" and "its rare history," the prime minister said.
The library was a scene of intense confrontation Saturday.

A dozen men dressed in military uniform were positioned on the library roof and threw cement blocks and rocks on the protesters and sprayed them with water hoses to push them away from the building.
But protesters hurled back rocks as well as Molotov cocktails. Then a massive explosion erupted, apparently originating from inside the building, and black smoke billowed.
Firefighters were busy putting out another fire in a nearby building.
Protesters were bleeding from rocks thrown at them.
At least one demonstrator was unaware that the structure was a library containing historical documents.

"We had no idea it was a library. We love our country. Why were the military thugs on the rooftop of the building in the first place, throwing debris and rocks at us? They destroyed it, not us, and now they will use it to turn public opinion against us and label us thugs," said Ahmed Ali, a student and activist involved in the clashes.
"Since when are buildings or manuscripts more important than the lives of humans?" he added.

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