1 dead, more than 600 hurt in Cairo clashes

Sit-in at Tahrir Square demanding that military transfer power dispersed; protesters return setting police cars on fire.

Tahrir Square Clashes 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Tahrir Square Clashes 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - At least one person was killed and more than 600 injured in clashes between riot police and protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday after a protest demanding the ruling military transfer power swiftly to a civilian government.
Police pulled down tents of about 100 protesters who had camped in the square overnight after a
Protesters later poured into the square and clashes erupted. State news agency MENA cited the health ministry's spokesman as saying the violence had injured 676 people.
Ahmed Mahmoud, a 23-year-old demonstrator, died in hospital after receiving a bullet wound, MENA said.
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State news agency MENA cited a health ministry spokesman as saying that 507 people had been wounded in the clashes.
State television reported that "18 troublemakers had been arrested and legal procedures were being taken".
Friday's rally appeared to be the biggest Islamist challenge to military rule since the largely secular uprising that toppled Mubarak in February.
Protesters expressed their anger at a constitutional draft that Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Silmi showed to political groups earlier this month which would give the army exclusive authority over its internal affairs and budget.
Parliamentary polls could be disrupted if parties and the government fail to resolve the row over the constitutional proposal that would deny parliamentary oversight of the army, potentially allowing it to defy an elected government.
MENA reported later on Saturday that al-Silmi had amended clauses 9 and 10 of the constitutional proposal.
The new proposal omits the segment of clause 9 that said the armed forces were responsible for protecting (Egypt's) constitutional legitimacy, MENA said. It also amended the part which said the armed forces alone would be responsible for its internal affairs, budget and legislation.
Clause 10 was also amended to say that a National Defense Council would be created and presided over by the president.
Al-Silmi said the committee chosen to write Egypt's new constitution would not be confined to the larger groups in parliament to ensure "a constitution that reflects national consensus and receives the consent of all segments of society".
But political analyst Ezzedine Fishere said he did not expect the amendments to appease Islamist groups who had taken to Tahrir on Friday.
"There are those who oppose clauses 9 and 10 ... but the main problem of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi currents is with the remaining elements of the document," said Fishere.
"(Islamists) see that they will get a majority in parliament and hence want total freedom in choosing the constitutional committee and writing the constitution," he said.
Analysts suggest Islamists could win 40 percent of seats, with a big portion going to the Brotherhood.
"What is happening now is a showdown between the two factions ... an on-the-ground confrontation with each party trying to enforce its will, the military council from one end and the Islamist currents from the other," Fishere said.