CAIRO – Egypt’s ruling military sought to discredit the pro-democracy movement Monday, portraying a detained protester as a woman of questionable morals, accusing a prominent publisher of incitement and alleging that the media is trying to sabotage the country.

The verbal attacks by a member of the ruling military council came hours after troops in riot gear swept through Cairo’s Tahrir Square before daybreak, opening fire on protesters and lobbing tear gas into the crowds. At least three people were killed, pushing the death toll from four days of street clashes to 14.

Over the past few days, the military has dealt with the protesters much more roughly than at any other time since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising 10 months ago. The military took power after Mubarak stepped down.

“The ruling military council doesn’t believe in the revolution,” said newly elected lawmaker and activist Mustafa el-Naggar.

The crackdown may reflect the military’s fury over the activists’ distribution of videos showing soldiers bludgeoning women and other protesters. The weak showing of the pro-democracy movement in the parliamentary elections that began last month may have also emboldened the military.

Maj. Gen. Adel Emara, a member of the ruling council, showed videos at a news conference clearly aimed at discrediting those involved in the protest movement.

One image was designed to raise questions about a female detainee’s morals. It showed the woman talking about her husband, then later saying she was not married to her partner. Sex outside marriage is considered gravely immoral in conservative, mostly Muslim Egypt.

Another video showed a young man in detention saying that prominent publisher Mohammed Hashem was using his Cairo office near Tahrir as headquarters for an “incitement ring,” distributing free food, helmets and gas masks to protesters.

Hashem is a leftist credited with publishing young novelists and poets whose works have become literary landmarks in Egypt. His Merit publishing house is a gathering place for young, left-leaning intellectuals.

Hashem told an online news service that he plans to sue the military for defamation and that he is proud to offer protesters protection against tear gas and bullets.

In footage that Emara said was taken by the military, men appeared to be rejoicing over setting a government building ablaze. Other images showed a male protester romantically embracing a young woman as they sat on a sidewalk.

Emara defended the crackdown, saying security forces have a duty to protect state property.

“What are we supposed to do when protesters break the law? Should we invite people from abroad to govern our nation?” Emara asked.

Emara’s hourlong news conference was punctuated by outbursts of temper and rants against the media and the protesters. He said that an investigation into the clashes and the media’s coverage of them is under way.

“There is a methodical and premeditated plot to topple the state, but Egypt will not fall,” he said, cutting journalists short and threatening to throw one out if she interrupted him again.

He added: “The media is helping sabotage the state. This is certain.”