Deadly dawn clashes rock Egypt

2011-12-19 14:27
Cairo - One person was killed in dawn clashes in central Cairo on Monday between security forces and protesters demanding an end to military rule in Egypt, officials and AFP correspondents said.

The deadly but brief battles broke out as security forces tried to dislodge the protesters from Tahrir Square, cradle of the revolution that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak in February.

A senior health ministry official quoted by the state news agency MENA said one person was killed in the latest clashes, bringing to 11 the number of those who have died in four straight days of confrontations.

"The death toll since clashes erupted (on Friday) has risen to 11, including one person killed today," said deputy health minister Adel Adawi, adding that 201 people were wounded on Sunday alone.

An earlier toll said 10 people had been killed since Friday and more than 500 wounded.

Renewed clashes

On the streets, demonstrators held their ground and several dozens milled about Tahrir holding up banners denouncing the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the correspondents said.

One man held up a bloodied white shirt, which reportedly had been worn by the person killed in the dawn fighting.

But Monday's renewed clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces quickly subsided during the morning and there were no immediate reports of any casualties.

Security forces erected another cement wall on a street adjacent to the Tahrir, near the Institute of Egypt, a historic building housing priceless archives, many of which were destroyed in the latest violence.

The institute for the advancement of scientific research was founded in 1798 during Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt, and contained more than 200 000 precious documents.

On Monday, young people were seen gathering burnt manuscripts and books in a bid to salvage what they could.

Calls for restraint

The street battles that erupted on Friday raged outside the parliament building and the headquarters of the government.

The violence overshadowed the count in the first post-revolution vote that shows Islamists in the lead, and prompted calls for restraint from the United Nations and the United States.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party (FJP) said it won 39% of votes in party lists, while the Al-Nur party which represents the hardline brand of Salafi Islam, claimed more than 30%.

The military, which took power when Mubarak was ousted, has decided on a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists, that will make up two thirds of the lower house of parliament, and for individual candidates for the remaining third.

"The FJP is definitely number one, we have come second," Al-Nur spokesperson Mohammed Nur told AFP.

The clashes were the deadliest in weeks and have sparked a furious debate over the army's role during the transition.

Outrage

On Sunday, demonstrators hurled stones and pieces of metal at troops and riot police who used metal sheets as barricades while men in civilian clothes on the roof of a building threw stones at the protesters.

The armed forces detained over 180 people including minors, the prosecutor's office said.

Outrage flared as furious protesters brandished the front page of a local paper showing military police clubbing a veiled woman after having ripped her clothes to reveal her bra.

In the picture and YouTube footage of the incident, the woman is sprawled on the ground, helmeted troops towering over her. One is seen kicking her, and later she appears unconscious, her stomach bared and her bra showing.

Other pictures circulating on social media networks that have enraged protesters include one of a military policeman looming over a sobbing elderly woman with his truncheon.

More footage showed army troops beating two protesters, a man and woman, before leaving their motionless bodies on the ground.

Concern

UN leader Ban Ki-moon accused Egyptian security forces of using "excessive" violence against the protesters.

Ban is "very concerned by the resurgence of violence," said his spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed his concern.

"I urge Egyptian security forces to respect and protect the universal rights of all Egyptians, including the rights to peaceful free expression and assembly," Clinton said.

Read more on:    un  |  muslim brotherhood  |  ban ki-moon  |  hillary clinton  |  hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  north africa
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