20 dead after attackers storm Cairo protest

Thugs attacked an anti-military protest near the defence ministry in Cairo on Wednesday, sparking clashes which killed 20 people in the politically tense run-up to Egypt's first post-uprising presidential poll.

In a bid to placate the protesters calling for an end to military rule, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said it was ready to hand power to civilian rule on May 24 if a candidate wins the first round of the election.

The army said previously it would hand over at the end of June.

The dawn assault sparked fierce clashes between the unidentified attackers and the protesters, who have been camping out to demand an end to military rule, with both sides hurling petrol bombs and rocks, the official said.

The army deployed troops in central Cairo to quell the clashes, a military source told AFP.

A doctor at a field hospital set up in the area said 20 people were killed and dozens injured.

Four presidential candidates announced they were temporarily suspending their campaigns over the killings.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi told reporters he decided to stop campaigning for 48 hours "in solidarity with the protesters." The SCAF as the ruling authority was "the first to be responsible," he said.

His main Islamist rival, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, cancelled all activity for the day, his camp told AFP, while leftist candidates Khaled Ali and Hamdeen Sabbahi also announced they were suspending their campaigns.

Amr Mussa, a former Arab League chief and now a frontrunner in the race, said Wednesday's violence was "proof of the need to put an end to the transitional period according to the timetable, without delay."

Egypt's military chief of staff, Sami Enan, said the army may transfer power to an elected president on May 24 if the vote is decided from the first round.

The military had previously said it would transfer power by the end of June. The presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24, and a run off for June 16 and 17 if there is no outright winner in the first round.

"We are looking into handing over power on May 24 if the president wins in the first round," state television quoted chief of staff Sami Enan as saying.

After clashes subsided in the afternoon, hundreds of protesters set off from Fath mosque in central Cairo towards Abbassiya, chanting "martyrs, in the millions, we are heading to the council."

"Down with military rule! The people want the ouster of the field marshal!" they chanted in reference to Hussein Tantawi who heads the ruling military council.

In Abbassiya, hundreds more joined the protests including presidential candidate Abul Fotouh.

Leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei denounced what he termed the "massacre" outside the defence ministry.

"SCAF & Government unable to protect civilians or in cahoots with thugs. Egypt going down the drain," the former UN nuclear watchdog chief posted on Twitter.

The targeted protesters, supporters of Salafist politician Hazem Abu Ismail, have been camped out since Saturday after the electoral commission barred the popular hardline Islamist from contesting the election.

"The army's intervention has come hours too late," said Amnesty International's Philip Luther, director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"There appears to be no will within Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to prevent these tragic events. After the weekend attack, the authorities should have been prepared for the violence."

On Sunday, one person was killed and 119 were injured in earlier clashes between Abu Ismail supporters and residents of Abbassiya.

Protests since the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year have often turned violent, with thugs associated to the previous regime frequently blamed.

The electoral commission on April 14 barred 10 candidates, including the 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.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options