CAIRO — Facing an intense wave of angry demonstrations, Egypt's generals are trying to present themselves as they did during the wintertime revolt: as champions of the demonstrators and the backbone of a rattled nation.
This time, though, the generals are the target of protesters' ire. Their image as saviors has eroded steadily since they took power in February, and has been badly damaged by five days of deadly clashes between riot police and activists that continued to rage late Wednesday. Their pledge Tuesday to accelerate the transition to an elected government did little to stanch the protests.
And their familiar attempts to steer the country are far less effective than they were during protests last winter. That was clear Wednesday when armored personnel carriers were dispatched near Tahrir Square for reinforcements and to separate police and protesters. It was the military's most visible presence since the unrest began Sunday, but the calm they imposed was brief. Witnesses said protesters broke through the army barrier, and the clashes resumed, the military looking on.
Members of the ruling military council appeared on state television late Wednesday, dismissing critics' charges that they have tried to broaden their powers, and urging Egyptians to accept that a transition to democracy cannot happen until next summer.
arrested u.s. student calls home: One of three American college students arrested during demonstrations in Cairo called home Wednesday and said he was being treated relatively well but denied doing anything wrong, his father said.
A spokeswoman for American University in Cairo said the students were questioned by Egyptian authorities. The school said an embassy lawyer was present and that the consul general also spoke with the students, reporting they are being treated well.
An Egyptian official has said the three were arrested on the roof of a university building, throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters.
Kevin Sweeney of Jefferson City, Mo., said his 19-year-old son, Derrik, spoke briefly with his mother Wednesday, and said he and the others were just watching the demonstrations.
Information from Associated Press was used in this report.