Following the afternoon’s narrow escape from the secret police and feeling the Tahrir protest was surrounded and most probably doomed, we decided to return to our hotel. Little did we know the next 12 hours of uprising would pan out right outside our first floor window.
This video rush shows the chaos and confusion that spanned that night of Friday 28 January, 2011. For us it was hard to understand, as the military were first greeted with burning barricades and stones, then with cheers and applause. Then ambulances were attacked and tanks charged at crowds of protestors while Mubarak’s party headquarters burned.
By Saturday night these scenes made more sense, as local journalists explained what had happened. Although the army were predominantly neutral to the Mubarak regime, there were certain elements that were supportive of the regime. Some tank brigades were part of this support, the Presidential Guard certainly were behind Mubarak. And it was these APCs and tanks that had charged the barricades to deliver more ammunition to the riot police still trying to hold Tahrir Square.
This was also the reason the ambulance was attacked, we were told. Protestors had checked the ambulance only to find boxes of tear gas inside. The boxes can be seen being lifted into the air following the attack on the ambulance.
For our team it was a tense and uncertain night, not knowing what the outcome would be or where the military stood. But we knew if the police won we were truly done for. So when they advanced and started firing again in the early hours of the morning we thought that was it. Not only did they shoot with tear gas and rubber bullets. Also sporadic AK-47 gunfire, that shot out our window sill and sent bits of concrete ricocheting around the room while we clung to the floor in gas masks. That was not the only night we barely slept.
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