Panic-stricken staff at Cairo Semiramis, an InterContinental Hotel, turned to the hotel’s Twitter page to call for help as masked gunmen stormed the building in the early hours of Tuesday, January 29.
"A group of people forced their way into the property and caused significant damage to the reception and ground floor areas of the hotel. We secured our guests and colleagues during this time and no-one was hurt in the incident," IHG VP of operations for the UAE, Near East and Africa Ignace Bauwens told Hotelier.
"The situation unfolded rapidly and the hotel used all means at their disposal to ask for the help of police and security forces to ensure the safety and security of our guests, colleagues and the property," Bauwens added.
The first plea was tweeted by the hotel (@ICSemiramis) at around 2am (EET): “We r under attack and several thugs have entered the Semiramis ... We need help,” it said.
Shortly after, the hotel Tweeted: “Thugs have entered the IC Semiramis on the Corniche!”
And minutes later: “We are under attack! Several thugs have entered the Semiramis! Send help”.
The repeated calls for help from the hotel, which is located close to Tahrir Square and the US Embassy, continued for the next hour: “Emergency! We are under attack! Several thugs have entered the Semiramis! Send help”.
“Please send help #emergency! We are under attack! Several thugs have entered the Semiramis!”
Following Tweets called upon New York Times reporter for Syria, Egypt and the Middle East, Liam Stack, based in Cairo, to raise the alarm.
“@liamstack thugs have broken down barriers, lobby doors, they’re inside Semiramis! Please send help!” the Tweet said.
Two hours on and the Tweets continued: “SOS If anyone knows anyone in #Military #Police #Government, please send help! Thugs in Lobby”.
Another Cairo-based journalist tried to confirm the attacks before alerting tourism police.
“I called the hotel, no answer. Called another hotel and asked them to call tourism police,” tweeted Nancy Youssef.
“I am worried. They [the hotel staff] seemed panicked in those messages. No one is answering there. I don't know what else to do,” Youssef said in a following tweet.
Shortly after, the hotel updated its Twitter to say that special forces had arrived and were “attempting to deal with the situation”.
The tweet said no casualties had been reported but there were large crowds of people gathered outside the hotel.
Bauwens said: "Egyptian security forces came to the hotel shortly after to deal with the situation. We’re very proud of the way our team handled extremely difficult circumstances".
Later this morning, the Cairo Semiramis tweeted: "To clarify we contacted all relevant authorise & later media to draw attention as the break in attempts increased & aid had not yet arrived".
"Thank you all revolutionaries that stood by us last night...You are awesome."
Meanwhile in Tahrir Square, street battles continued between security forces and anti-Mursi protesters for the fifth consecutive day.
At least 40 people are thought to have been killed in this latest wave of violence in the city.