May 22, 2013 | 01:14 AM (BD Time)
22 May, 2013 Wednesday
11 protesters killed in Cairo
. BBC Online
Unknown assailants have killed at least 11 people protesting against Egypt's ruling generals near the defence ministry in Cairo, officials say.
The attackers set on them at dawn using rocks, clubs, firebombs and firing shotguns. The protesters retaliated, beating some of the assailants. Soldiers and police have now stopped the clashes, but the intervention came nearly six hours after they began.
Two leading presidential candidates have suspended campaigning in protest.
Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist, and Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), criticised the authorities' response.
In addition, the FJP and the Salafist Nour party, which together control 70% of the seats in parliament, decided to boycott a meeting with the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf).
Many of the protesters who were attacked outside the defence ministry building, in the capital's Abbasiya district, on Wednesday morning were supporters of a Salafist preacher barred from standing in the election.
The attack on demonstrators outside the Egyptian defence ministry follows what has become a familiar pattern in recent months.
The attackers were unidentified thugs in plain clothes. Egyptians will strongly suspect they were, at the very least, encouraged by some section of the government.
The attack is most unlikely to deter the protesters. More likely, the demonstrators will summon reinforcements, with the danger of further clashes in coming days.
The first round of the presidential election is just three weeks away. Despite the violence, and the disqualification of several leading candidates, at the moment the vote does not appear to be under threat.
Hazem Abu Ismail was disqualified because his mother had dual Egyptian-US nationality, violating rules laid out in a constitutional declaration approved after an uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Abu Ismail complained that he was the victim of a "plot" by the military authorities, but the election commission found no evidence.
Some reports said the unidentified attackers were local people, angry at the disruption caused by the sit-in, which began on Saturday.
But many Egyptians will suspect that, at the very least, the government turned a blind eye, reports the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo.
The use of plain-clothes thugs is a well-worn tactic by the authorities, he adds.
Soldiers and police deployed in the area initially did not intervene to stop the clashes, nor did they when one person was killed in a similar attack early on Sunday.
The health ministry said more than 150 people were injured on Wednesday and that many were receiving treatment at a nearby field clinic. Some had gunshot wounds and others had been attacked with knives, according to medical sources.
Art and Culture
Focus on Chittagong
Fashion & Beauty
Food and Drink
Law and Justice
New Nation Supplement
Editor: Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Adviser Editor: A.M. Mufazzal, Printed and Published by Mainul Hosein from the New Nation Printing Press, 1.R.K Mission Road, Dhaka-1203 Phones: New Nation PABX: 7122654, 7114514, 7122655, Fax: 880-2-7122650, 9512775 email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com for advertisement, firstname.lastname@example.org