10 dead as Egyptian protesters, security forces clash

Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday.

Story highlights

  • An activist says he's not sure Egypt's economy can "survive a second uprising"
  • The army joins police to clear Tahrir Square with tear gas
  • The government says elections will go on as scheduled
  • Thousands protest a plan for a constitution that would shield the military from public oversight

Ten people were killed Sunday in confrontations between protesters and security forces in Egypt, a health ministry spokesman said.

These fatalities, reported by spokesman Dr. Adil al-Dawi around midnight Sunday, appear to be in addition to two shooting victims -- one in Cairo, one in Alexandria -- from Saturday. The same spokesman said earlier that at least 1,114 people had been injured over the weekend.

A major flashpoint for unrest continues to be Cairo's Tahrir Square, the same place where demonstrators had months ago gathered and clashed with security forces before the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

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Hundreds of Egyptian army and police forces pushed into the square Sunday, prompting thousands of protesters to flee in the face of tear gas and what sounded like live fire. Security forces were seen arresting and beating people.

Shortly after dark, the violence in the square seemed to have subsided, with television pictures showing people milling around undisturbed. Still, confrontations continued to erupt on nearby side streets.

Protesters showed off rubber bullets they said had been fired at them by government forces. The government's Cabinet, though, insisted that police did not use live rounds against demonstrators in Cairo and elsewhere, and that parliamentary elections will go on as scheduled later this month, state TV reported.

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"The government asks that people contain themselves in order to express their points of view and to refrain from carrying out demonstrations that will encourage chaos and the deterioration of security in Egypt when Egypt requires stability and security," the Cabinet said in a statement.

Mohamed Higazi, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, said the government will continue dialogue on reaching a constitution that ensures the election of a civilian government.

The military said it wants to transfer power to a civilian parliament and president, but many citizens are dissatisfied with the pace of the transition and the resolve of the military rulers.

But some on the streets expressed little confidence in the current government, saying there had been little progress since earlier this year when those calling for Mubarak's ouster were confronted.

"Nothing has changed," said Zahra, one protester. "We've gone backwards. The military council is garbage. Mubarak is still alive and well, and the people are dying."

The activist surge is part of the so-called April 6 Movement, members of which figured prominently in the toppling of Mubarak this year. Less than two weeks before the Nov. 28 election, a prominent grassroots group are urging citizens to resist the military-led government.

Protesters are upset about proposed principles for the constitution, in which the military's budget would not be scrutinized by civilian powers. They worry that the military would be shaped as a state within a state.

The movement had issued a statement urging its members to descend on Tahrir Square "immediately because resistance is the only solution."

"Down with military rule," the movement said.

Fighting erupted Saturday when police worked to clear Tahrir of people who remained after Friday's massive protests. when tens of thousands denounced plans for a constitution that would shield the military from public oversight.

Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks and torched a police van. Scuffles broke out on side streets and clouds of smoke rose from burned tires, witnesses said.

Clashes between protesters and police also reportedly broke out in the cities of Suez and Alexandria.

Also Sunday, Israeli envoy Yitzhak Levanon was back in Cairo. In September, protesters stormed and ransacked the Israeli embassy there. Egyptian demonstrators tore down a wall surrounding the building that houses the embassy, entered its offices and threw papers from the windows.

The Cabinet held an emergency meeting and warned the clashes could have a dangerous impact on Egypt, state media said.

Yousri Hamad, the official spokesman of the Al Noor Salafi Muslim political party, has said he thinks that the violence could affect election plans.

"The protesters are a bunch of kids that attacked the security forces, which is a red line and could delay elections," Hamad said.

Hisham Qasim, a publisher and human rights activist, said that Egypt can ill afford anything -- including another revolt -- that could further hamper its already struggling economy. The nation's once thriving tourism industry continues to struggle, while unemployment remains high.

"The poverty belt is now the ticking time bomb in Egypt," Qasim said. "It threatens that what we went through (earlier this year) could be repeated. And ... I don't think we'll survive a second uprising in the span of ten years."

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