Egyptian Activists, Security Forces Clash for 3rd Day in Cairo

Posted December 18th, 2011 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Egyptian anti-government activists and security forces have engaged in a third day of street battles in Cairo as protesters demand that the country's military rulers hand power immediately to a civilian administration.

The anti-government activists threw rocks at security forces Sunday on a road leading from Tahrir Square to the seat of government. Egyptian soldiers set up concrete barriers on the road and retreated behind them as riot police moved to the front line to confront the protesters. Egyptian security personnel in civilian clothes also threw stones at the protesters from rooftops.

Egyptian state television said rocks and gasoline bombs thrown by rioters injured 24 police. There were no other reports of casualties. The latest street battles in Cairo erupted Friday and continued Saturday, with anti-government activists throwing stones and Egyptian troops kicking and beating the protesters with sticks.

Authorities say 10 protesters were killed and at least 500 other people were hurt in the first two days of rioting. Military officials say 164 people have been detained.

The violence has overshadowed the early stages of Egypt's three-month phased parliamentary election – the first free vote since a popular uprising ousted Egypt's autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in February. An Egyptian military council that took over from Mr. Mubarak is overseeing the parliamentary vote and has promised to hand power to an elected president by July.

The anti-government activists protesting in Cairo want the military council to step down immediately. They accuse the council of brutality against demonstrators and manipulating the transition process to retain permanent powers. But many other Egyptians want a stop to months of street protests to allow the voting to proceed.

Egypt's main Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said Sunday its party secured the biggest share of party-list votes in the second stage of the parliamentary election last week. It said unofficial results from the nine Egyptian provinces that voted on December 14 and 15 show the Freedom and Justice party won about 40 percent of the party-list ballots.

The Brotherhood's party and the ultra-conservative Islamist Al-Nur party dominated the first stage of the election in Cairo, Alexandria and seven other provinces earlier this month.

In another development Sunday, Egyptian authorities say saboteurs blew up part of a pipeline carrying natural gas to Israel and Jordan, the 10th such attack this year. The latest blast happened near the town of El-Arish on the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula. No fire was reported because the pipeline was disabled following a previous attack last month. No group has claimed responsibility for the series of pipeline blasts.