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Deadly Clashes Enter Day Three in Cairo

Egyptians on Sunday entered a third day of deadly clashes between protesters and government forces in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/18/2011, 3:37 PM

Egyptian Protestors
Egyptian Protestors
Flash 90

Egyptians on Sunday entered a third day of deadly clashes between protesters and government forces on a street close to Cairo's Tahrir Square, and home to a campus of the American University. One of the university's research centers was gutted by a blaze during the clashes on Saturday.

At least 10 people have been killed and more than 440 people have been injured so far, according to Egyptian Health Ministry figures cited by the Associated Press, as protesters continue to demand the military hand over power to a civilian authority.

The country's ruling military council has said it will do so when a new president takes office, ready to take command of the country, after elections next June.

Clashes began with a peaceful sit-in outside the Cabinet building near the Parliament three weeks ago, as protesters demanded once more that the military hand over the country's leadership to a civilian authority. The violence started when one of the protesters was arrested and beaten by Egyptian soldiers on Friday.

The clashes continued as officials counted the votes from the second round of parliamentary elections that took place last week, considered the first truly free and fair poll in modern Egyptian history. The country's once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was the big winner in the first round, garnering some 60 percent of the ballots, and as the ballots from the second round were being counted, it appeared that trend was continuing.

A third and final round of parliamentary elections is scheduled to take place next month in the last nine of Egypt's 27 provinces.

Nevertheless, much of the population still relies on the military to lead the country until a president can take over, believing that any other civilian entity would be too weak to rule the 80 million-strong, Muslim-majority population.

Protesters have lost patience with the slow pace of change, and throughout the year periodically have camped out in the iconic Tahrir Square, making various threats and creating chaos. The military also appears to have lost its patience with the constant demands as well.

Over the weekend, a cleric from Egypt's prominent Al Azhar University died after being shot in the heart during protests outside the Cabinet building. Sheikh Emad Effat had been a strong critic of the military and had issued a fatwa -- a religious decree -- forbidding voters from casting their ballots in support of members of the former regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Another prominent activist, Ahmed Mansour of the April 6th Movement, was also killed, according to Ramy Raoof of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Eight other protesters also died of gunshot wounds, Raoof said, adding that autopsies were expected in order to determine which bullets killed the protesters. Some of the gunfire reportedly came from the rooftops.