More than 200 injured in Cairo protests

More than 200 injured in Cairo protests

More than 200 people were injured in clashes Saturday in Cairo between supporters and opponents of Egypt's military rulers, according to medical sources and the official MENA news agency.

"The number of people injured in clashes during Saturday's protests in Cairo rose to 231," dpa quoted the agency as reporting.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Health Ministry said most of the wounded were treated on the scene, but 39 people were hospitalized.

According to the medical sources, the clashes erupted in Abbasiya in central Cairo, where protesters gathered to march to the nearby Defence Ministry headquarters to push the ruling military council to deliver on promises of reform.

Residents of the area were engaged in the clashes, in which fire bombs, stones, sticks, knives and axes were used, according to witnesses. Protesters, meanwhile, set fire to tyres as car traffic ground to a halt in the area and nearby roads, they said.

Army troops fired in the air to disperse around 10,000 protesters, who said they were seeking to commit the military council to setting a date to hand over power to civilian rule.

According to witnesses, the Army and security troops set up barricades and barbed wire to stop the protesters from having access to the Defence Ministry, which houses the headquarters of the military council.

Angry protesters chanted: "Down with the military rule."

The military council has ruled Egypt since February 11, when former president Hosny Mubarak was toppled in a popular revolt.

The clashes came as tensions have risen between the military council and activists who want the council to move faster in bringing former officials to justice and halting civilians' trials at military courts.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads the military council, vowed Saturday to set up a democratic civil state and hold free elections.

"We are keen to set up a modern civil state where democracy is firmly established and citizens' rights are preserved through fair and free elections," Tantawi said in a televised address on the 59th anniversary of an Army coup that ended the rule of Egypt's monarchy.

The address was the first by Tantawi since Mubarak was toppled.

"The armed forces have protected and supported the January revolution," Tantawi said.

Earlier this month, sources inside the military council said parliamentary elections, originally planned for September, would be held in October or November.

No date has been set for the vote, which the military rulers said last week would be held in three rounds.

The military council has already created a higher electoral commission, led by a top judge, to set the scene for the elections.

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