CAIRO (Reuters) – At least one person was killed and more than 650 wounded in clashes between riot police and protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir square yesterday, officials said, after a protest demanding the ruling military transfer power swiftly to a civilian government.
Protests also erupted in other cities, including Alexandria and Suez, witnesses said.
Egypt holds its first parliamentary election, from Nov 28, since president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising in February and parties and the ruling military are jostling for position.
Police pulled down the tents of about 100 protesters who had camped in the square overnight after a demonstration on Friday of about 50,000 people, mostly Islamists, against the military leadership.
That prompted around 5,000 protesters to return to the square and clashes erupted. Police fired rubber bullets and buildings and two cars in the square were set on fire, witnesses said. A third vehicle, close to the Arab League’s headquarters, was also on fire.
“The people want to topple the regime!” hundreds of youths chanted as they rushed towards a line of police.
State news agency MENA cited the health ministry’s spokesman as saying 676 people had been hurt and Ahmed Mahmoud, a 23-year-old demonstrator, died in hospital after being shot.
Riot police, who used tear gas to clear the area in the early evening, later fired more tear gas at protesters who had regained control of the square, witnesses said. Police beat protesters with batons while protesters broke off chunks of cement from sidewalks to throw at the police.
“We are fighting them non-stop,” shouted one protester.
Egyptian state television said Prime Minister Essam Sharaf called on protesters in Tahrir to clear the square.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said it “denounced the break-up of the Tahrir sit-in by force. (This is) reminiscent of the practices of the defunct regime’s Interior Ministry.”