One military serviceman was killed and over 370 people were injured in clashes outside Egypt’s Defense Ministry headquarters in Cairo on Friday, doctors said.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the building in the Abbassia district in eastern Cairo to demand the speedy transfer of power from military to civilian rule.
The violence broke out when the demonstrators attempted to storm the building, breaking through security cordons and hurling stones at police and security forces, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Several dozen military officers were among those injured, Cairo’s emergency medical services head Ahmad al-Ansari told journalists. One serviceman died in hospital of a gunshot wound to the chest, he said.
At least eight civilians received serious injuries in the clashes, which lasted for about two hours.
More than 170 have been arrested on charges of organizing and inciting the clashes, local media reported, quoting sources in the military prosecutor’s office. A curfew has been imposed in the area from 11:00 pm local time on Friday until 7:00 am on Saturday.
The clashed took place less than three weeks before presidential elections scheduled for May 23-24. A total of 13 candidates are running for the presidency, but none is expected to garner more than half of the votes in the first round, which means a run-off is likely to be held in June.
Egypt’s military rulers have said they are committed to handing over power to a civilian administration by July 1.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been in power in Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February 2011.
On Wednesday, at least 11 people were killed and some 170 were injured during riots outside the Defense Ministry building.
The United States expressed concern on Friday about the ongoing violence in Egypt, but called the SCAF’s commitment to the presidential election “encouraging.”
“We very much remain concerned about the ongoing violence in Egypt,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told journalists in Washington.
“We want to see peaceful protest take place. We want to see all parties have the space necessary to have an open, honest political dialogue and debate about Egypt’s future,” he added.