UPDATE: Four Killed in Tahir Square

*Egypt’s minister of health was quoted by Nile TV as saying four people were killed and 200 wounded within an hour after heavy gunfire broke out just before calls to prayer echoed across the city, signifying the coming daylight.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualties or who was behind the shooting, which sounded like automatic weapons fire.

Earlier we reported …

*Anti-government protesters kept a grim grip on the square at the center of efforts to oust Egypt’s president at dawn Thursday, after a day of battles marked by horse and camelback charges, rhythmic banging of makeshift shields and the glow of firebombs hurled in the dark, reports the LA times.

But their continued presence in Tahrir Square came at a cost: Witnesses and news reports said several people were killed and at least seven wounded when heavy gunfire broke out just before calls to prayer echoed across the city, signifying the coming daylight.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualties or who was behind the shooting, which sounded as if it came from automatic weapons.

On Wednesday, President Hosni Mubarak’s supporters had converged on the square to confront the opposition, a day after he declared he would not seek reelection this fall.

Egyptian officials had appealed for an end to the protests, saying a political dialogue couldn’t begin until normal life returned to the streets.