Cairo (Agencies): In a tough turn of events, hundreds of pro-government supporters attacked protesters on Wednesday in Cairo's central square, where thousands were engaged with demonstrations demanding the ouster of embattled President Hosni Mubarak. Tension escalated following the violent clashes even as the military ordered the protesters wanting Mubarak's immediate ouster to "go home" after the President rejected their demand.
Several thousand supporters of Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, attacked anti-government protesters as the nine-day unrest took a dangerous new turn. In chaotic scenes, the two sides pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their horses.
In a televised address, Mubarak said he would not seek a sixth term in September, but also indicated he would not cede the presidency immediately, eliciting boos and chants of "Leave, leave" from protesters in central Cairo.
In his 10-minute address, Mubarak said he would not flee the country. "I will die on Egyptian soil," he said. The President, who appeared sombre, said he would serve the remaining part of his term to accomplish necessary steps for peaceful transfer of power and carry out amendments to the rules of Presidential polls.
His remarks on Tuesday night did little to appease the crowds still gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, a focal point in the Egyptian capital.
For the first time, 82-year-old Mubarak's supporters took to the streets in central Cairo after they broke through the rally by protesters and urged the President not to quit under any circumstances.
The action by Mubarak's protesters appeared to be a move by the President to stamp out massive protests calling for him to quit. Mubarak has been in power since 1981 serving five consecutive terms.
As midnight neared, they insisted they would not leave until Mubarak stepped down.
A military spokesman appeared on state TV and asked the protesters to disperse so life in the most populous Arab nation could get back to normal.
The announcement could mark a major turn in the attitude of the army, which for the past two days has allowed protests to swell, reaching their largest size yet yesterday when a quarter-million peacefully packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square.
The President's supporters marched into an anti-Mubarak rally of thousands of people on the Tahrir (Liberation) Square and engaged in fist fights, witnesses were quoted as saying by the media. They also damaged banners denouncing the President.
During the massive anti-regime rally at the Square, protesters chanted slogans like "Mubarak you have to go now. Go, Go now," as the military for the first time since the outbreak of the uprising against the 30-year rule of Mubarak nine days ago, issued a decree asking the people to end their demonstrations.
Opposition parties defied the army orders to "go home" saying they planned to go ahead with another huge rally after the Friday prayers. Their leaders have served an ultimatum on Mubarak to quit by then.
Egypt's Army, hugely popular with the public, has so far refrained from interfering in the huge protests that have so far claimed over 150 lives and it was not immediately known whether its new warnings were a prelude to any clampdown.
EU urges Mubarak
EU leaders in Brussels have urged Egyptian President on Wednesday to respond quickly to pro-democracy protests but stopped short of calling for him to resign before elections scheduled for September.
President Barack Obama said he had told Mubarak the transition must begin at once and must include opposition parties. Mubarak on Tuesday had rejected
protesters' demands that he step down immediately.
"We've been very clear that Mr Mubarak has to respond to the will of the people and that the demonstrations are a manifestation of that will," European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron said the transition in Egypt "needs to be rapid and credible, and it needs to start now."
The European Union has had close relations with Egypt as part of its partnerships with other Mediterranean nations and tens of thousands of EU citizens flock to Egyptian beaches in wintertime.
Unlike the US and a number of other countries, the EU has not called on its citizens to leave Egypt. But a number of European tour operators have started carrying out plans to evacuate their clients.
About 50,000 Europeans, mostly tourists, are believed to still be in Egypt.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy also called for a political transition to start "without delay."
Cairo (Agencies): In a tough turn of events, hundreds of pro-government supporters attacked protesters on Wednesday in Cairo's central square, where thousands were engaged with demonstrations demanding the ouster of embattled President Hosni Mubarak.
Tension escalated following the violent clashes even as the military ordered the protesters wanting Mubarak's immediate ouster to "go home" after the President rejected their demand.