Continued from page 1

During an overnight assault, police hit one of the field clinics with heavy barrages of tear gas, forcing the staff to flee, struggling to carry out the wounded. Some were moved to a nearby sidewalk outside a Hardees fast food restaurant. A video posted on social networking sites showed a soldier dragging the motionless body of a protester along the street and leaving him in a garbage-strewn section of Tahrir.

The military on Sunday night issued a statement saying it did not intend to “extend the transitional period” and vowed not to let anyone hinder the “democratic transition.” The government has said elections will be held on schedule, starting on Nov. 28 and extending over numerous phases for several months.

Amnesty International condemned the violence.

“While the Egyptian authorities have a duty to maintain law and order, they must not use excessive force to crack down on peaceful protests, something that poses a severe threat to Egyptians’ rights to assembly and freedom of expression,” the London-based group said in a statement.

So far, the powerful Muslim Brotherhood has declined to join the Tahrir protests, though some individual members are participating. Their reluctance is believed to be because of worries the demands for the military’s exit will lead to a postponement of parliament elections, in which the group is expected to make a powerful showing. Some of the secular protesters in Tahrir are worried the vote will give too much power to the fundamentalist group.

Monday afternoon, a prominent Brotherhood figure, Mohammed el-Beltagy, visited the square and was met by heckling and volleys of thrown water bottles from protesters angry at the group’s refusal to join.

As the violence raged, the military council issued a long-awaited anti-graft law that bans anyone convicted of corruption from running for office or holding a government post.

The timing of the move suggested it was an attempt to placate protesters. But the law falls far short of demands by many that all members of Mubarak’s former ruling party be banned from politics.

The interim government also said Monday it was seeking to replace culture minister Emad Abu Ghazi, who submitted his resignation Sunday to protest the Cabinet’s response to Tahrir clashes, MENA reported.

The protesters’ suspicions about the military were fed by a proposal issued by the military-appointed Cabinet last week that would shield the armed forces from any civilian oversight and give the generals veto power over legislation dealing with military affairs. It would also give them considerable power over the body that is to be created after the election to draft a new constitution. Activists already accuse the military of ruling with the same autocratic style of Mubarak.

Furthermore, there is widespread discontent with a military-backed government that has been unable — or unwilling — to act as woes have mounted in Egypt.

Over recent months, security around the country has fallen apart, with increased crime, sectarian violence and tribal disputes. The economy has badly deteriorated. Because of the weekend violence, Egypt’s main stock index fell for a second straight day Monday, and airport officials reported a sharp drop Monday in international passenger arrivals — a further blow to the country’s crucial tourism industry, which is one of the top foreign currency earners.

One of the most prominent democracy proponents in the country, Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, called on the civilian government to resign and for a national unity government to be formed “grouping all the factions so it can begin to solve the problems of Egyptians.”

“Power is now in the hands of the military council, which is not qualified to run the country, and the government, which has no authority,” he said on a TV political talk show late Sunday. For the next six months, “we want see the powers of the military council given completely to a civilian, national unity government, and the military goes back to just defending the borders.”

Associated Press writer Ben Hubbard contributed reporting.