Al-Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said “utter chaos” prevailed in the centre of the capital.
Rageh said: “It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, demanding that Coptic rights should be fulfilled. But it soon escalated into violence, with people on balconies pelting the demonstrators with stones, clearly disagreeing with the cause of the Coptic demonstrators.”
The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building. But then, they said they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.
“The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual,” Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a white shirt with a cross drawn on it, said.
“Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.”
Wael Roufail, another protester, corroborated the account.
“I saw the vehicle running over the protesters. Then they opened fired at us,” he said.