UPDATE 1:15 PM EST – Robert Gibbs speaking now and saying “if any of the violence is instigated by the government it needs to stop now” (if?)
AJE reports the square is thining out and that Egyptian State Tv is announcing:
You have to evacuate Tahrir Square immediately. We’ve got confirmed information that violent groups are heading toward Tahrir Square carrying firebombs and seeking to burn the Square.
The exits of the square are ringed by armed thugs so even AJE reporters are saying they do not feel safe leaving. THe thugs are also reported all around the Egyptian Museum and throwing molotov cocktails.
We are all Khaled Said reports:
Mubarak thugs are throwing fire bombs on Egyptian Musuem which carries 1/3 of world heritage. They are setting it on fire. @waelabbas: witness:Tank commander put a pistol in his mouth to commit suicide, his soldiers stopped him & burst out crying. Pro Democracy & Freedom are being slaughtered by Mubarak. Plz take an action now. Contact the white house, contact your leaders & Representatives. Show your support.
As pro-Mubarak thugs continue to block entries to Tahrir Square, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement:
“Any attack against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it,” Ban said.
“It is important at this juncture to ensure that an orderly and peaceful transition should take place. I urge all the parties to engage in such a dialogue … without further delay,” he said, adding that the United Nations stands ready to support any reform effort by Egypt and any other Arab countries.
The White House:
“The United States deplores and condemns the violence that is taking place in Egypt, and we are deeply concerned about attacks on the media and peaceful demonstrators. We repeat our strong call for restraint,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
Ben Wedeman of CNN tweets in response:
bencnn White House issues pale, weak statement on situation in Cairo. Imagine if Tahrir were in Tehran. #Jan25 #Egypt
AJE is interviewing a news photographer who reports fleeing into a mosque which has been turned into a makeshift hospital and seeing at least 300 injured protesters there with more wounded trying to get in. As he returns to the square, he sees people collecting materials in preparation for a seige, planning to attempt to hold Tahrir Square and checking IDs in attempt to keep the thugs out. The major injuries were head injuries. He saw organizers protect the women in the center of the square while the men went to the outskirts to try to keep out the thugs. The army just stood by.
Opposition Ghad party leader Ayman Nour says he’s surrounded by govt thugs in Bab el-Louq, Cairo according to the MB news site. Nour is the secular opposition leader who was issued the opposition party demands this weekend. Along with the attacks on independent press offices mentioned earlier, this suggests there is a concerted effort by Mubarak to go after opposition leaders and media at the same time as attacking the protesters.
Al Masry Al Youm reports from Alexandria that the paid thugs are attacking there as well:
As violence rages in Cairo, thousands of pro-Mubarak protesters are also demonstrating in various areas of Alexandria, supporting his latest speech and condemning the opposition…
A source at the National Democratic Party (NDP) in Alexandria, who asked not to be identified, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the party asked its provincial offices to organize pro-Mubarak protests in order to show the people the president is still popular.
Mohamed al-Helo, member of Alexandria’s local council and Abdallah Osman, a high ranking member of the NDP in Alexandria were seen guiding the pro-Mubarak protesters…
Men on horseback were seen in the demonstration, while other people brought Egyptians flags from cars. Others were writing on banners advocating for the president…
Earlier on Wednesday, following Mubarak’s speech Tuesday night in which he promised not to run for re-election this year, dozens of thugs attacked the anti-Mubarak protest in Mahatit Misr, injuring protesters.
At Al-Gomrok district, hundreds of pro-Mubarak protesters chanting against opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei slogans such as “Oh coward Baradei, agent of the American.”
From We are all Khaled Said, the site that has supported the movement for change in Egypt since the murder of Said by Mubarak last year:
It’s a sad day for humanity. A day when peaceful law abiding protesters were attacked by Mubarak’s paid thugs while the world leaders were watching. Tahrir square lights are switched off, 500 peaceful protesters wounded, an army watching its people being murdered & a dictator prevails. It’s a sad world to live in. I’m …not sure if I believe in democracy anymore.