Curfew in Cairo's Abbasiya ends after clashes

SCAF ordered curfew expires without incident, according to Al Jazeera; 170 arrested during demonstrations.

Wounded Egypt protester 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Wounded Egypt protester 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A curfew imposed by Egypt's army near the Defense Ministry on Friday expired on Saturday without incident, Al Jazeera reported, after protesters clashed with troops there during demonstrations against military rule and the exclusion of candidates from the presidential election.
Some 170 people were arrested over the fracas between police and demonstrators, who hurled projectiles and insults at the soldiers sent to defend the ministry after 11 people were killed in fighting there on Wednesday. Protestors frustrated with ongoing rule called for the overthrow of the head of the ruling army council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who has said that the army would hand over power to a civilian government by July 1 after the upcoming presidential elections .
During the clashes on Friday, the army fired back with water cannons then teargas and riot police surged towards the crowd with batons. Scores of wounded protesters were taken away on motorcycles and dozens of soldiers were injured.
"Field Marshal leave. The people are dangerous," shouted the crowds, and "Raise your voice. Our revolution will not die."
The street violence comes less than three weeks before an election that represents the first chance for Egyptians to freely choose their leader. A successful vote would mark the most important step in a messy transition to democracy since the overthrow of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago.
Last-minute changes to the line-up of contenders, bickering over a new constitution and suspicion that the military will continue wielding power after a new president is chosen are making for a chaotic backdrop to the campaign.
The troops pressed forward when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in Cairo's central Abbasiya district.
Protesters ripped down a metal fence at an underground railway construction site to build a barricade. Some cried "God is Greatest" as army helicopters swooped overhead.
The teargas scattered the crowd far down the rock-strewn streets. Troops blocked off several streets between Abbasiya and central Cairo using armored personnel carriers and some fired shots in the air.
The Health Ministry said 128 people were wounded, state news agency MENA reported. The injuries included teargas inhalation and cuts and bruises, some serious, and 82 people were taken to hospital.
"The crowd is coming here with sharp weapons. We have batons and water cannon and teargas to disperse them," said one commander. "Some of them believe if they kill a soldier they will go to heaven. What do you expect us to do?"