Cairo: Military police in riot gear fired tear gas at demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday and some threw stones, supporting police who had earlier tried to disperse a protest in the square without success, television images showed.

Protesters run from tear gas during clashes with Egyptian riot police in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Photo: AP

The square was largely cleared of protesters and protester banners were set ablaze. On Saturday, police without military help had cleared the square briefly before protesters returned.

One group of protesters gathered to form a line as the police charged in, and began to bow in a traditional Muslim prayer ritual. Military police and other security forces, wielding batons, moved in around them.

Police were shown using batons and sticks to beat some of the protesters. Some police charged towards the protesters behind riot trucks.

Around the same time, more than a dozen armoured personnel carriers took up positions around the interior ministry, a focus for protester anger at heavy-handed police tactics used to try to break up a demonstration in central Cairo, a witness said.

One motorcycle was set ablaze.

Egypt’s ruling military council and the army-picked cabinet, meanwhile, held an urgent meeting on Sunday after protesters and police clashed in Cairo to discuss the violence and ensure an election next week goes ahead on time, the cabinet said.

Cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy said the meeting was to discuss “the political and security situation and the aftermath of the Tahrir Square confrontation and the effort to contain the situation." Hegazy said the meeting would discuss steps to “calm down the street and create a conducive atmosphere towards the election".