CAIRO — Egyptian forces swinging electrified batons and shouting the battle cry “Allahu akbar (God is great)” swiftly chased off dozens of activists Monday who had refused to end four weeks of renewed protests at Tahrir Square to pressure the country’s transitional military rulers.

Hundreds of riot police backed by armored vehicles and soldiers moved in to tear down the camp of dozens of tents after a group of holdout activists – some of them relatives of people killed in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February – refused pleas over loudspeakers to go home. Some in the crowd hurled stones at the police.

Firing shots in the air and using clubs, Egyptian forces cleared the square in minutes.

With Mubarak’s trial on charges he ordered the killing of protesters due to start Wednesday, the ruling military council appeared to run out of patience with the protesters, whose key demand is to see the former president and other members of his regime face justice.

Still, some were surprised by the security sweep, especially as it came on the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and traditionally a time of forgiveness and tolerance.

“Attacking the families of martyrs and the people protecting them in the square seems weird. I didn’t think this could happen on the first day of Ramadan,” said activist Omar Kamel.