Egyptian army soldiers arrest a female protester during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo
A female protester is arrested by soldiers during clashes in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Reuters

The Egyptian military is jeopardising its credibility and legitimacy by using brutal force to crack down on pro-reform protesters ten months after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

The horrific image of a female protester being violently assaulted by the security forces has revealed the extent of the soldiers' brutality. After she is kicked to the ground, the protester is dragged by her arms and the soldiers step on her.

The shocking image, which has now gone across the world, is not an isolated incident. Other footage of protesters being assaulted by Egyptian soldiers continues to surface on the web.

At least 14 people were killed and more than 400 wounded in a brutal crackdown on protesters that began on Friday.

The protesters are demanding that the ruling military council immediately hands power over to a civilian government.

Activists have also staged a sit-in protest in front of parliament to contest the appointment of Prime Minister Kamal al Ganzouri, who they accuse of siding with the military.

While protesters have complained about abuse and human rights violations for the last ten months, there has been an increase in violence over the past three days.

The violent upsurge was widely reported by Egyptian media, which has placed the military at risk of facing even larger protests.

Videos circulating on social network sites clearly show the police firing handguns at protesters.

Independent journalists covering the unrest have turned to sites such as Twitter to report being harassed by the security forces.

Joseph Mayton, editor-in-chief of the independent Bikya Masr website, also denounced being held in detention for 11 hours: "Attempting to leave the area, they grabbed my arms and neck, forcing me to stay.

"A uniformed military officer was quick to the scene, grabbing me and pulling me out of what I thought was harm's way... I was taken in a headlock, lifted off my feet and dragged into the courtyard area, where the grip on my neck tightened. I wasslapped in the face numerous times and hit on the back by unknown assailants," Mr Mayton wrote on Bikya Masr's site.

The Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, using state media to address the criticism that has been directed at it, blamed much of the recent violence on thugs and saboteurs.

Issuing a warning about a "conspiracy" against Egypt, its Facebook page also contains a video of young men throwing rocks at the parliament or trying to set the building on fire.

Meanwhile, the prime minister blamed the violence on "foreign hands", echoing most of the regimes across the region as they have responded to charges of state-led violence against protesters.

As video footage, photographs and witness accounts emerge, the army's position becomes increasingly untenable, as it continues to blame the violence on thugs and "foreign hands" while claiming that it is only remaining in power to keep order and assure people of security.