Egyptian troops charge protesters in pre-dawn raid

By HAMZA HENDAWI | December 20, 2011 | 3:30 AM EST

Egyptian protesters throw stones toward army soldiers during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. Egypt's military sought to isolate pro-democracy activists protesting against their rule, depicting them as conspirators and vandals, as troops and protesters clashed for a third straight day, pelting each other with stones near parliament in the heart of the capital. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian troops and riot police raided Cairo's Tahrir Square early on Tuesday in their latest attempt to evict protesters who want the ruling military to immediately step down, according to a field hospital doctor.

Ahmed Saad said a 15-year-old protester was in critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound in the attack.

The troops and police initially succeeded in chasing the protesters out of the square, but they returned a short time later using a different route. The security forces pulled out of the square following clashes in which each side pelted the other with rocks.

It was the second pre-dawn raid in as many days on the city's central square. It comes as Egypt's ruling generals are coming under mounting criticism at home and abroad over the excessive use of force by troops against unarmed protesters, including women, since the latest spate of violence broke out on Friday. At least 14 protesters have since been killed.

The military took power after an 18-day uprising forced longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak to step down in February.

A member of the military council on Monday questioned the protesters' motives and morals and spoke of a conspiracy to "topple the state" by parties he did not identify. He also lashed out at the media, saying it was fomenting sedition.

Maj. Gen. Adel Emara also defended the use of force by troops, saying they had a duty to defend the state's institutions.