22 Dead as Clashes Rock Cairo for Third Day

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Egyptian morgue officials say three days of clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters have killed at least 22 people nationwide.

One official earlier said the unrest had killed at least 33 people. The official changed the death toll to at least 22 after discovering that 11 of the deaths were unrelated to political violence.

VOA's correspondent in Cairo Monday said protesters continued to hold central Tahrir Square, where security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators hurling objects at police.

Clashes also erupted near Egypt's Interior Ministry. Reuters quotes an army official as saying the ministry requested protection against the angry protesters, who are calling for the head of the ruling military to swiftly hand over power to a civilian government.

Officials say the violence has wounded more than 1,700 people.

Police in Cairo are attempting to clear the square, where activists camped out for a third consecutive night.

Egyptian police and troops had briefly dispersed the activists Sunday by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Anti-government demonstrations have spread to several other Egyptian cities, including Alexandria and Suez.

Many of the demonstrators have been chanting “The people want to topple the field marshal,” a reference to Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The Tantawi-led council took power in February when a popular uprising ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

Pro-democracy activists have criticized the council for setting guidelines for a new constitution that would keep some military affairs beyond civilian control. The activists also want the military rulers to stop putting civilians on trial in military courts.

Egypt's military-led government held an emergency meeting Sunday and promised to begin staggered parliamentary elections as planned on November 28.