Filed in News by on May 4, 2012

Fresh clashes outside Egyptian defence ministry

The BBC’s Jon Leyne describes a “long and violent episode” of unrest

Clashes between protesters and security forces have been taking place near Egypt’s defence ministry in Cairo.

The protesters ignored a warning not to approach the ministry building and threw rocks. Police responded with water cannons and tear gas.

Calls to join the demonstration have also been broadcast in Tahrir Square.

On Wednesday, unidentified assailants attacked people protesting against the ruling military council outside the ministry, leaving at least 20 dead.

The unrest comes just three weeks before presidential elections are due to be held – the first since Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down.
Islamists blamed

Earlier on Friday, thousands once again gathered in Tahrir Square – the focus of the uprising that ousted President Mubarak in February 2011 – to protest against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The crowd expressed their anger at the generals’ failure to protect the demonstration on Wednesday and reiterated the demand that they hand over power to a civilian administration immediately, rather than after the presidential election.

Thousands of protesters earlier gathered in Tahrir Square for Friday prayers

In the afternoon, protesters began walking from Tahrir Square to the defence ministry in the capital’s Abbasiya district, several kilometres to the north-west.

The protesters started throwing stones and tried to break barbed-wire surrounding the building, sparking clashes with security forces.

TV pictures showed riot police and military police trying to disperse the crowd by firing water cannons and then tear gas. They could also be seen hurling back stones and beating some of the protesters with batons.

Soldiers broadcast a message on loud-hailers saying the defence ministry would only be stormed over their dead bodies, and that reinforcements were on the way.

The health ministry said at least eight people had been injured.

State television blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the trouble, despite the fact that the Islamist movement has been urging its supporters to stay away.

There were also reports of clashes between protesters and security forces in Egypt’s second city of Alexandria. A crowd demanding an end to military rule is reportedly moving from al-Qaid Ibrahim square towards the northern military district.


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