Egyptian Forces Block Protesters Near Military Headquarters

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 9:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Egyptian protesters marched Friday toward the headquarters of the country's military rulers in the city of Alexandria, amid reports of clashes between demonstrators and soldiers in other cities.

Security forces blocked a road where more than 1,000 protesters were marching and prevented them from advancing.

Witnesses say scuffles broke out, noting the military fired shots in the air to disperse protesters.

But in a statement, the ruling Military Council denied using force against the demonstrators. The council also accused the April 6 movement, one of the largest activist groups in Egypt, of trying to undermine the country's stability.

Many protesters have grown mistrustful of the military, accusing it of not acting fast enough to bring officials in Egypt's former regime to trial.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of activists rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square to renew calls for reforms. The protesters argued that Thursday's Cabinet reshuffle stopped short of meeting their demands.

Some demonstrators erected a tent city in the square two weeks ago and vowed to remain there until the interim government met their demands.

Protesters are calling for reforms including the establishment of a minimum and maximum wage, and the prosecution of officials from former president Hosni Mubarak's government who are linked to violence or corruption.

On Thursday, the government swore in a new Cabinet, in which about half of the ministers are new, in a bid to meet protesters' demands.

But some activists wanted Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to replace the key interior and justice ministers, both of whom kept their posts.

The prime minister vowed to fight corruption and implement other reforms. He said Thursday he would set up an anti-corruption body and work to end Egypt's hated 30-year emergency law.