At Least 11 Killed as Army Clears Egyptian Protesters from Tahrir Square
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At least 11 people were killed on Sunday as security forces tried to clear protesters from Cairo's Tahrir Square, casting a dark shadow over Egypt's first elections since Hosni Mubarak's downfall.
Police and military forces used batons, tear gas and birdshot to clear the central square of thousands of protesters demanding that the ruling military cede power to a civilian authority.
It was the second day of violence in the Egyptian capital, following a peaceful anti-military mass rally on Friday.
An AFP reporter said 11 people died on Sunday and two people on Saturday, kicking off a violent countdown to the country's first elections since the end of Mubarak's 30-year-rule.
At least four had been shot dead on Sunday, he said.
Earlier Dr Mohammed Fatuh, who heads a field hospital in the square, confirmed to AFP that three more bodies had been brought in bearing bullet wounds.
Medics earlier reported four deaths, one from live fire and three from asphyxiation after tear gas was fired.
Police and troops seized the square only to be beaten back by protesters who retook it later, as had also happened on Saturday.
The situation remained fluid with ongoing clashes around Tahrir -- the symbolic heart of protests that toppled Mubarak in February.
An AFP reporter said late on Sunday that on one street protesters were throwing stones and petrol bombs at armoured personnel carriers and riot police.
He said military police had responded with mostly shotgun fire and rubber bullets. When there was steady fire some protesters began to run while others chanted "Hold fast! Hold fast!" and "We won't leave!"
There were heavy clashes on side streets leading to the interior ministry as protesters chanted "The people want to topple the field marshal" -- Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's long-time defence minister who heads the ruling military.
Activists tweeted a video they said showed police dragging a corpse on the ground, in what appears to be Tahrir Square, and leaving it by a rubbish dump.
In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, a funeral procession for one of the victims degenerated into clashes with the police who fired volleys of tear gas at mourners, the official MENA news agency reported.
In the canal city of Suez, troops fired live rounds into the air to stop protesters from storming a police station in the city centre.
Protests also broke out in the central cities of Qena and Assiut, a security official said, adding that 55 people had been arrested nationwide.
Egypt's cabinet, which held crisis talks for several hours before moving en masse to the headquarters of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for another meeting, said in a statement that parliamentary elections scheduled for November 28 would go ahead.
Throughout the day, sporadic clashes erupted near the interior ministry on the outskirts of Tahrir Square, which was covered by clouds of tear gas and littered with stones and glass.
In makeshift hospitals set up in mosques around the square, demonstrators were treated for tear gas inhalation and injuries from rubber bullets and birdshot.
The SCAF, in a statement read out on state television, said it "regretted" what was happening. It said it was committed to the elections timetable.
Earlier Mohsen al-Fangari, a member of the council, insisted the election would go ahead as planned and that the authorities were able to guarantee security.
"We will not give in to calls to delay the elections. The armed forces and the interior ministry are able to secure the polling stations," Fangari told a talk show on the Egyptian satellite channel Al-Hayat.