Cairo, Dec 17 : At least seven people, including a top Muslim cleric, were killed and nearly 260 injured in clashes between Egyptian protesters and security forces, the bloodiest violence in weeks that threatened to undermine the credibility of first Parliamentary polls in post-Mubarak era.
The violence erupted in Cairo yesterday, a day after the second phase of polls closed, when military police tried to disperse a sit-in by hundreds of protesters in front of the Cabinet building, witnesses were quoted by media reports as saying.
In a statement, the ruling military council denied that troops had tried to break up the sit-in. It blamed the violence on the protesters who have been camping in front of the building for three weeks demanding an end to the military rule.
The statement claimed that the clashes were part of a conspiracy to derail the country's ongoing election process.
The ruling Generals said they would continue to act firmly against any attempts to overrun government buildings.
The renewed outbreak of violence left at least seven people dead and nearly 260 others injured, activists were quoted as saying by media reports. Among those killed was Sheikh Emad Effat, a top cleric at Dar Al-Iftah, the body that issues Islamic fatwas or edicts.
The seven deaths were caused by bullets, rights activists were quoted as saying by Daily News Egypt, but the type of bullets used is still undetermined. However, the Ministry of Health put the death toll at three.
The clashes were the bloodiest since five days of protests in November that had killed over 40 people.