For the first time in the Egyptian crisis forces loyal to the Egyptian president have put on a show of strength.
After eight days of controlling the streets of Cairo the opposition crowds were cavalry charged with horses and camels, and faced a barrage of stones and petrol bombs as several thousand Mubarak loyalists drove them from parts of Tahrir square and engaged in running battles, hiding behind army vehicles and throwing up barricades.
Some got onto nearby rooftops and hurled stones down onto the people below. State television announced more than 600 people had been injured and three had been killed. One doctor told the international press he had seen 1,500 injuries in the emergency aid centre.
The army maintained a disciplined distance, attempting to keep the two sides apart, but insisted the protestors should go home. But they have rejected President Hosni Mubarak’s offer to stand down after his mandate expires in September, and insist they want him out now.