Cairo, Nov 20: The violent clashes between thousands of demonstrators and police in Cairo and three other Egyptian cities left two people dead and about 800 others wounded, as protesters tried to occupy the iconic Tahrir Square to stage a sit-in demanding transfer of power to a civilian government.
Security forces fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse the angry protesters, who broke chunks of cement from pavements and hurled them at the riot police at the Tahrir Square, in scenes reminiscent of the 18-day long uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February.
At least one person was killed in Cairo in overnight clashes, according to health officials.
State news agency MENA reported that another 25-year-old protester was killed after being hit by a rubber bullet in Alexandria.
Egyptian state television said 750 people had been injured in the clashes in Cairo, as demonstrations spread to Alexandria, Aswan and Suez.
Fourty of the wounded were police officers and that 18 “troublemakers” had been arrested, the Al Arabiya news reported quoting state tv.
Thousands of protesters had gathered at the Tahrir Square yesterday to denounce the ruling military council, which has been heavily criticised for delay in political reforms and transition to civilian rule.
The protesters used the social media to appeal to the people to take over the square “to protect their fellow protesters” amid the crackdown on the people assembled in the heart of the capital.
Protests also took place in other cities including Aswan in the south, Alexandria and Suez on the Red Sea, where 10 people including seven demonstrators were injured, a security official said.
In Alexandria and Suez, police fired tear-gas grenades to disperse the demonstrators, MENA reported.
About 1,000 people gathered outside a police station in Suez, threw stones at it. Police fired tear gas and shot into the air, Al Arabia news reported.
It said protesters tore down banners of former members of Mubarak's disbanded party who are running in the election. Crowds chanted: “Riot police are thugs and thieves” and “Down with the Marshal,” referring to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler.
Takadom Khalifa, one of the protesters, said the scene resembled the one during the 18-day uprising of the February revolution that forced President Mubarak to step down.
“It is as if Mubarak has not even stepped down. The Supreme Council for Armed Forces adopted the method of Mubarak's security forces,” he underlined.
The military, in charge since Mubarak's resignation on February 11, says it will hand over power after a presidential election, which has yet to be scheduled.
Parliamentary polls are to start on November 28.
While the anti-government rally yesterday was dominated by Islamists, the sit-in appeared to be staged mostly by members of left- and liberal-leaning revolutionary youth groups.