3 Killed as Protesters Clash with Military Police in Cairo

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 7:45 pm (UTC-5)
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At least three people have been killed and more than 255 injured as Egyptian security forces clashed with protesters demanding an end to military rule.

A senior cleric was among those killed Friday as hundreds of protesters in Cairo hurled rocks and firebombs at military police, who responded by using water cannon and firing shots. It was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live ammunition.

Witnesses say the unrest began late Thursday when military police tried to break up a sit-in in front of the Cabinet offices. On Friday, the ruling military council, in a statement read on state television, denied troops had tried to disperse the sit-in. It blamed the violence on the protesters who have been camped out in front of the building for three weeks demanding the ruling military leave power.

Members of a civilian advisory panel created by the military this month as a gesture to protesters suspended their work, demanding an immediate end to violence against protesters.

The violence comes as Egyptians await the official results of the second round of parliamentary elections held this week. Islamist parties appeared to be extending their already overwhelming electoral gains.

Election officials are expected to announce final results by Sunday.

The military council has said it will only step down once a president has been elected by the end of June following a protracted series of phased parliamentary polls.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative al-Nour Salafi Islamist party, which want Egypt to adhere to the principles of Islamic law, dominated the first round of voting in late November.

A third round of elections covering the remaining nine provinces will take place in early January.

The parliamentary elections are Egypt's first since a popular uprising ousted long-time President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Elections for parliament's less powerful upper house will begin in late January and finish in March, after which the assembly will write a new constitution.