Eight killed, almost 300 injured in Cairo violence

CLASHES between Egyptian security forces and protesters against continued military rule killed eight people and wounded another 299, the health ministry said today, overshadowing the vote count in the latest round of a landmark general election.

“The toll from incidents on Friday outside the cabinet offices reached eight dead and 299 wounded,” according to Adel Adawi, an aide to the health minister quoted by state news agency MENA.

A previous toll said there were three dead and 257 injured.

Security forces moved to retake control of the area around the cabinet offices early Saturday, erecting razor-wire barriers on access roads.

But after a few hours of calm, new clashes erupted, pitting demonstrators against troops and police. Protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails.

Demonstrators have been camped outside the cabinet offices since Nov. 25, when they branched off from larger demonstrations in nearby Tahrir Square, the nerve center of the 18 days of protests that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.

They objected to the military’s appointment of a new caretaker prime minister, calling on the generals to transfer power fully to a civilian government.

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

Egyptian prime minister Kamal al Ganzuri on Saturday accused protesters who engaged in the deadly clashes with security forces of being counterrevolutionaries.

“Those who are in Tahrir Square are not the youth of the revolution,” Ganzuri told a news conference.”This is not a revolution but a counterrevolution.”

Meanwhile, the count was underway in the second stage of elections for the lower house of parliament. A third stage next month will be followed by a similar three-phase election to the upper house before the presidential vote.

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