At least one person is dead and more than 600 are wounded after protesters and police clashed Saturday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, according to theEgyptian state-run MENA news agency.The violence began Saturday morning when riot police tried to remove a small tent camp in the square, according to eyewitnesses who spoke with reporters. The camp was comprised of some 200 demonstrators and allegedly was set up to commemorate protesters who died in the Egyptian Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak from power in February and helped ignite the "Arab Spring" that swept the rest of the Arab world.
Thousands of black-clad police officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and beat protesters with batons. The demonstrators hurled rocks at the security forces and set an armored police vehicle ablaze. An unspecified number of arrests were made, according to the AFP news agency.
The fighting spilled into the surrounding streets of downtown Cairo, lasting all day and into the night. The protesters called for the ouster of Egypt's ruling military council, shouting, "Down with Tantawi!" a reference to the council's head, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi.The violence erupted only nine days before the start of the nation's first parliamentary elections since Mubarak's ouster.
A consortium of political parties, most of the Islamist and led by the Muslim Brotherhood have recently been consolidating power in an effort to wrest control of the government from the military council. The group met last week and issued a statement, demanding the council revoke a constitutional recommendations document that was intended to launch the start of reforms ahead of the parliamentary process.
The elections, which are to be held in a three-step process, are scheduled to begin on November 28 and won't be completed until some time next year -- with a date yet to be set. Likewise, no date has yet been set for a presidential election, and Egypt's military council says it will hand over power after a new president has been elected.