(Adds Clinton comment)
* Troops, police try again to drive protesters from Tahrir
* Clinton condemns "shocking" attack on woman protester
* Army general blames unrest on "evil forces"
By Marwa Awad and Alexander Dziadosz
CAIRO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Egyptian police and soldiers
fired weapons and used batons and teargas for a fifth day on
Tuesday in the latest effort to clear Cairo's central Tahrir
Square of opponents of army rule, amid mounting international
concern about the violence.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned as
"shocking" incidents such as one in which two Egyptian soldiers
were filmed dragging a woman protester on the ground by her
shirt, exposing her underwear, then clubbing and kicking her.
"This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours
the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not
worthy of a great people," Clinton was quoted as saying in a
speech at Washington's Georgetown University.
General Adel Emara, a member of Egypt's ruling military
council that took over after President Hosni Mubarak was
overthrown in February, said on Monday the attack on the woman
protester was an isolated incident that was under investigation.
The United States, which saw Egypt as a staunch ally in the
Mubarak era, gives Cairo $1.3 billion a year in military aid.
Gunfire rang out across Tahrir Square at dawn as security
forces charged hundreds of protesters attempting to hold their
ground, activists and a Reuters journalist at the scene said.
After a night of clashes, hundreds of people were in Tahrir
in the morning, although traffic was still flowing through.
Medical sources say 13 people have been killed and hundreds
wounded in the violence that began on Friday in Tahrir and
nearby streets leading to parliament and the cabinet office.
Army generals and their advisers have condemned the
pro-democracy protesters, sometimes in extraordinarily harsh
"What is your feeling when you see Egypt and its history
burn in front of you?" retired general Abdel Moneim Kato, an
army adviser, told al-Shorouk daily, referring a government
archive building set alight during clashes. "Yet you worry about
a vagrant who should be burnt in Hitler's incinerators."
Emara said "evil forces" wanted to sow chaos and that said
soldiers had shown "self-restraint" despite provocation.
"What is happening does not belong with the revolution and
its pure youth, who never wanted to bring down this nation," he
said. Despite the actions of the security forces in Tahrir,
Emara denied that the army had given orders to clear the square.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticised the use of
"excessive" force by the Egyptian authorities. Rights groups
said suppliers should not send small arms to Egypt.
The flare-up has also marred a staggered parliamentary
election that began on Nov. 28 and ends on Jan. 11, but the army
has said a promised transition to civilian rule will go ahead.
Results so far suggest the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood
and other Islamist parties will dominate the lower house.
Before the latest charge by the security forces in Tahrir,
protesters had been trying to tear down a brick wall the army
had put up to block access to parliament, located nearby.
"Hundreds of state security forces and the army entered the
square and began firing heavily. They chased protesters and
burned anything in their way, including medical supplies and
blankets," said a protester who gave his name only as Ismail.
"Some of those who fell had gunshot wounds to the legs," he
added, speaking by telephone from Tahrir.
Politicians and members of parliament who had been staging a
sit-in nearby tried to enter the square but were forced to turn
back as the gunfire and clashes raged on, Ismail said.
The violent crackdown has alarmed rights group. Amnesty
International urged arms suppliers to stop sending small arms
and ammunition to Egypt's military and security forces.
Reporters Without Borders said the army's "systematic use of
violence against media personnel", was blocking access to
information in and around the square.
Many Egyptians want to focus on building democratic
institutions, not street activism, but have nevertheless been
shocked by the tactics of security forces in and around Tahrir.
The latest violence broke out just after the second stage of
a six-week election for Egypt's new parliament that starts a
slow countdown to the army's return to barracks. The military
has pledged to hand power to an elected president by July.
Hard-core activists have camped in Tahrir since a protest
against army rule on Nov. 18, which was sparked by the
army-backed cabinet's proposals to permanently shield the
military from civilian oversight in the new constitution.
(Additional reporting by Shaimaa Fayed and Dina Zayed; Writing
by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
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