Cairo, Feb 3 (PTI) Firing from assault rifles targetedanti-government protesters in the Egyptian capital''s TahrirSquare today apparently from supporters of the embattledPresident, killing at least six people as violence escalatedjust a day before the opposition''s proposed massive rally onFriday to oust Hosni Mubarak.
Still reeling from Thursday''s attack in which Mubaraksupporters charged into the square on horses and camels, theopposition protesters were fired upon from a bridge near thesquare, killing three people on the spot, to bring the deathtoll to six in the last 24 hours.
The protesters refusing to quit from the TahrirSquare, which has become a hub of ''Down Mubarak'' campaign,were fired upon at 4 am this morning and opposition spokesmanclaimed that violence was being unleashed by a force of paidthugs and plain clothes police to crush an unprecedentednine-day-old movement.
Witnesses reported at least three bodies being carriedaway in ambulances and said gunfire rained into the squarefrom at least three directions and that the military deployedheavily did not intervene.
Pitched battles were also reported between pro-andanti-Mubarak groups for the control of a high vantage overpassleading to the square.
The clashing groups also hurled rocks and bombs ateach other.
The fighting between the groups erupted 12 hoursearlier as pro-Mubarak supporters charged with whips into theprotesters, while others rained fire bombs and rocks fromrooftops.
Soldiers ringing the square from all sides with tanksand armoured carriers fired occasionally in the air throughoutthe night but did not otherwise intervene.
The violence came after a beleaguered President wenton air on Tuesday to say that he would not stand forre-election in September, but refused to quit immediately,triggering an ultimatum by the protesters setting Friday as adeadline for him to step down.
Mubarak, 82, has been in power since 1981.
The unceasing violence has witnessed a sharpescalation of attacks on Western media men, which has come infor strong condemnation by the US Secretary of State HillaryClinton and Western governments. .