Injuries mount as police, protesters clash in Cairo

1,000 hurt in second day of violence

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CAIRO — Egyptian security forces clashed for a second day in Cairo with hundreds of youths demanding that the country’s military rulers speed up prosecution of police officers accused of brutality during mass protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

More than 1,000 people have been injured, a senior official said.

In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising that ousted Mr. Mubarak on Feb. 11, riot police deployed around the Interior Ministry building and fired in the air or used tear gas as demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs.

The fighting left streets littered with rocks and debris, and a heavy, white cloud of tear gas hung over the area.

By late afternoon, army troops backed by armored vehicles took over from riot police who had been protecting the Interior Ministry, closing all roads leading to the complex, the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

The protests attest to the ongoing upheaval in Egypt nearly five months after Mr. Mubarak stepped down. The country is struggling with a worsening economic crisis and a security vacuum that has led to a surge in crime.

The question of meting out justice to those responsible for the deaths of some 850 protesters during the uprising, as well as for regime stalwarts charged with corruption, is among the most divisive in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Many of those who took part in the uprising accuse the ruling military of showing too much reverence to key figures of the old regime and lenience with senior police commanders accused of ordering the killing of protesters.

MENA quoted Assistant Health Minister Abdul-Hameed Abazah as saying that of the injured, some 900 were treated on the spot and more than 120 went to hospitals.

Most of the injured suffered from gas inhalation or concussions, officials said. At least 18 cars and 11 stores were damaged.

The military issued a statement on its Facebook page claiming the clashes were designed to “destabilize the country” and drive a wedge between the groups behind the uprising and the security forces. It called on Egyptians not to join the protests.

Some of the protesters used scarves to shield them from tear gas. They pelted police cars with rocks and advanced when the riot police lines retreated.

The main chant back in January and February was “The people want to oust the regime.” But that has been replaced by screams of “The people want to oust the field marshal” - a reference to Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Mr. Mubarak’s longtime defense minister and chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has taken over.

Some of the youth groups behind the uprising see Mr. Tantawi as tainted because he was a key member of the Mubarak regime.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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