I was at Tahrir today from 11am until shortly after the rocks started flying. I can confirm that the violence was started by criminals and secret police. They started with sending a prostitute out to taunt the peaceful demonstrators with nasty words and vulgar gestures. There were many plainclothes police in the crowd. Some openly admitting they were police. The peaceful demonstrators were being very vigilant for troublemakers. They stopped one man who they suspected was police and demanded his id. He refused at first but finally handed it over, and ran away. I saw the id with my own eyes. Before we left, we started to see ordinary people dragging away plainclothes police they had caught making trouble and handing them over to the army. The rocks started flying at this time and fortunately we got out of there as soon as a horse came in. I missed the molotov cocktails but I can assure you that it is not possible that this was the ordinary citizens who came in that brought these because the peaceful anti-government protesters were all searched and patted down on entry. The pro-Mubarak ones were allowed in from the other side by the museum, probably without a proper search.
But please understand what circumstances we are all living under here. My husband has just gone downstairs for his neighborhood guard duty of the night, armed with a heavy iron axel taken from a car that is over a meter long. With the complete disappearance of the police (except to make trouble) from the streets and the release of all the prisoners from the prisons, we have no choice. Our neighborhood goes on lockdown at sunset, a lockdown made by the people in order to protect our property, our lives and the businesses and yes even a museum and archaeological site in our neighborhood. We have checkpoints on every block and any criminals caught are handed over to the police. No one who isn't a resident is let in. The area where the museum in our neighborhood is, is being defended by ordinary Egyptian citizens with guns.
We are all very concerned about the Egyptian Museum, but please, what we need first is to restore order and save the Egyptian people.
Eyewitness account of violence in Tahrir Square, Cairo
The following was posted by Nicole Hansen, an Egyptologist living in Egypt. I'm cutting and pasting the text from the "Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum" group on Facebook as well as posting a screen shot.