Egyptian troops clash with protesters

Egyptian troops and protesters clashed in the landmark Tahrir square for the third straight day.

Cairo: Egyptian troops and protesters
clashed on Sunday in the landmark Tahrir square here for the third
straight day, leaving at least ten people dead and injuries to
hundreds in the post-election violence aimed at forcing the
army to handover power to a civilian leadership.

Soldiers clashed with hundreds of rock-throwing
protesters in the heart of the capital, pelting each other
with rocks, in the bloodiest violence in weeks that threatens
to undermine the credibility of first Parliamentary polls in
post-Mubarak era.

The violence erupted on Friday, a day after the second
phase of polls closed, when soldiers stormed an anti-military
protest outside the Cabinet building, a short distance from
Tahrir.

The protesters were reportedly detained and beaten by
troops. The three days of violence has left 10 people dead and
432 others injured, according to Egypt`s health ministry.

"What the military have essentially done is created a
concrete barrier to block the entrance into that street to
stop the protesters coming from Tahrir Square and continuing
with their sit in," Arab channel Al Jazeera said.

The report described the situation as "pretty calm", but
said clashes have continued to simmer near Egypt`s parliament
building.

It said skirmishes "are taking place...across that
concrete wall between the military and the protesters."

The demonstrators want an immediate handover to civilian
rule in Egypt. They object to the appointment of Kamal Ganzuri
as the new Egyptian Prime Minister last month by the ruling
military.

The latest clashes were taking place as unofficial
results from a second round of voting in parliamentary
elections showed the dominance at the Islamist partie, led by
the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the latest flare up, the military has cracked down
hard on the protesters, dragged women by the hair, kicking and
beating them. Troops have pulled down tents set up by the
protesters and set them on fire.

Among the 10 killed is Emad Effat, a cleric of Egypt`s
Dar al-Ifta, a religious authority that issues Islamic fatwas
(edicts).

In a statement yesterday, the Supreme Council of Armed
Forces (SCAF), the ruling military council that is governing
country after president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in
February, denied that troops had tried to break up the sit-in.

It blamed the violence on the protesters who have been
camping in front of the building for three weeks demanding an
end to the military rule.

The statement claimed that the clashes were part of a
conspiracy to derail the country`s ongoing election process.

Ganzuri, who first served as premier under Mubarak from
1996 to 1999, accused protesters of being counter-
revolutionaries, a reference to the uprising in February that
ended a three-decade rule of President Mubarak.

"Those who are in Tahrir Square (epicentre of the
revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February)
are not the youth of the revolution," Ganzuri told a press
conference on Saturday.

"This is not a revolution, but a counter-revolution".
The anti-government activists have been holding a sit-in
protest in the heart of the Egyptian capital since the
appointment Ganzouri, which followed mass protests last month
in which nearly 40 people were killed.

The military, which has been governing the country since
Mubarak was toppled, has vowed that it will step down once a
new President is elected by the end of June next year.

The latest round of clashes came as Egypt ended its
second phase of the parliamentary vote that began on November
28.

Islamist groups, Muslim Brotherhood`s Freedom and Justice
Party and Salafi al-Nour party, have dominated the poll.
A third round of elections to the lower house of Parliament
covering the remaining nine provinces will take place in early
January.

Egyptians will choose an upper house in a further three
rounds of polls after the voting for the lower house of
parliament gets over.

PTI

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