Five killed, 600 hurt as violent Cairo clashes run into the night [UPDATE]

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak early Thursday opened fire on protesters demanding he step down, killing five and wounding dozens more in what many saw as an attempted government-backed crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.

“Most of the casualties were the result of stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and stick,” Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid told state television by telephone, after fresh fighting broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir square. “At dawn today there were gunshots. The real casualties taken to hospital were 836, of which 86 are still in hospital and there are five dead.”

The Egyptian army began arresting people in the wake of the violence, Al Arabiya television reported, without giving numbers.