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Hundreds Held After Renewed Clashes in Cairo

One of the largest mass arrests since Egypt's uprising

Common Dreams staff

Injured protesters are evacuated by motorbike in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

Military prosecutors have detained over 300 Egyptian protesters following a day of clashes in Cairo in one of the largest mass arrests since Egypt's uprising.

The detainees, who include 18 women, are being interrogated by military prosecutors and could face military trials, Associated Press reports.

Protests began on Friday in a planned march to Egypt's Defense Ministry. Clashes quickly erupted when troops attempted to seize the march near the Defense Ministry, leaving two people dead, and nearly 300 injured.

The clashes came after a week of turmoil. On Wednesday groups of armed individuals believed to be plain-clothed members of the military attacked anti-military protesters who had been staging a peaceful sit-in near the Defense Ministry in Cairo, calling for the military to stick to its pledges to step down after the elections. Several were left dead and scores were injured in the attack.

Egypt's presidential elections will take place in three weeks.

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Associated Press: Hundreds held after Egypt Defense Ministry clash

The clashes broke out Friday during an attempt by protesters to march on the Defense Ministry. One soldier was reported killed and over 300 people injured by tear gas, rocks, and live fire. Security officials said 140 soldiers were injured.

The violence followed the first sustained large-scale protests near the ruling generals' headquarters since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in an uprising last year. The military council had warned the demonstrators before the march that deadly force would be used against them if they approached the ministry. One warned protesters they would be approaching the "lion's den."

These protests have also been spearheaded by Islamists rather than members of the country's left- and liberal-leaning revolutionary movements.

The detainees now face charges of attacking military troops, belonging to groups that aim to disrupt public order and being present in restricted military areas. Omran said the number of detainees could still rise.

Maj. Gen. Mukhtar al-Mullah, a member of the military council, warned late Friday in a televised statement that those involved in or instigating violence would be arrested. An overnight curfew was declared in the area.

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Reuters: Army imposes curfew in Cairo district after clashes

Egypt's army imposed an overnight curfew around the defense ministry in Cairo on Friday after protesters clashed with troops there during demonstrations against the country's military rulers, leaving one soldier dead and 373 people wounded.

The crowd hurled projectiles and insults at the soldiers sent to defend the ministry after 11 people were killed in fighting there on Wednesday, and called for the overthrow of the head of the ruling army council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The army fired back water cannon, then teargas, and riot police surged towards the crowd with batons. Scores of wounded protesters were taken away on motorcycles and dozens of soldiers were injured.

"Field Marshal, leave! The people are dangerous!" shouted the crowds. "Raise your voice! Our revolution will not die!"

The street violence comes less than three weeks before an election that represents the first chance for Egyptians to choose their leader freely. A successful vote would mark the most important step in a messy transition to democracy since the overthrow of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago.

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