CAIRO: Clashes erupted today between assailants and mostly Islamist protesters gathered outside the Defence Ministry in the Egyptian capital, leaving 11 people dead and nearly 50 wounded, security and hospital officials said.
The violence is the latest episode in more than a year of turmoil in Egypt following the ouster of longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak and will likely fuel more tensions just three weeks ahead of presidential elections. The military generals who took over from Mubarak in February last year have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by July 1 but that has not stopped rallies demanding the generals leave immediately.
Security officials said the clashes broke out at dawn when the assailants set upon several hundred protesters who had camped out in the area since early Saturday to press their demand for the military to go. The Health Ministry only confirmed nine were killed and 49 were injured.
The violence was the worst in the Egyptian capital in weeks. Several presidential candidates suspended their election campaigns to protest the perceived failure of the country’s military rulers to stop Wednesday’s bloodshed.