Five people were killed yesterday when attackers stormed an anti-military protest near the defense ministry headquarters in Cairo, medics and a security official said.
The dawn assault sparked fierce clashes between the unidentified attackers and protesters, who have been there for days calling for an end to military rule, with both sides hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks, the official said.
A doctor at a field hospital set up in the area said five people had been killed and at least 50 injured.
The health ministry confirmed the toll, while Egyptian state television said the clashes were ongoing.
The protesters, supporters of Salafist politician Hazem Abu Ismail, have been camped out since Saturday after the electoral commission barred the popular hard-line Islamist from contesting the upcoming presidential election.
On Sunday, one person was killed and 119 injured in clashes between Abu Ismail supporters and residents of the Abbassiya neighborhood in Cairo, where the defense ministry is located.
Protests since the popular uprising that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last year have often turned violent, with thugs working for the country’s military leadership frequently blamed.
The electoral commission on April 14 barred 10 candidates, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat El-Shater and the former president’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, from standing in the poll to choose Mubarak’s successor.
Abu Ismail’s nomination was rejected because his mother had taken joint US citizenship, but many of his supporters believe he was the victim of a “plot” by the authorities.
The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and May 24, and the interim military leadership has promised to hand power to an elected civilian president by the end of next month.