Police, protesters clash in Egypt for third day; death toll up to 22

REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- The deadly clashes between protesters and military rulers over Egypt's future intensified Monday around the Interior Ministry in Cairo as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at mobs surging toward the long-reviled symbol of state oppression.

The uprising spun into its third consecutive day, leaving protesters with bloodshot eyes and the military-backed interim government struggling to stem the violence before it threatens to disrupt next week's parliamentary elections.

The violence, which so far has killed at least 22 people and injured more than 1,400, has further unnerved a nation whose democratic ambitions after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February have been stalled by a group of generals.

Protesters across Egypt are demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces immediately hand over power to a civilian government. The military is warning that a new revolt will not be tolerated. After months of suspicions between politicians, generals and activists, there is little common ground on which to negotiate an end to the crisis.

Egypt's official news agency reported that Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazi resigned in protest over the crackdown on demonstrators. The military attempted to convince protesters to depart Tahrir Square, the center of the protests, over fears the nation's economy, tourism industry and stock market would continue to tumble.

Gen. Sayed Abbas, a representative of the ruling council, accused the demonstrators, who are calling for the disbanding of the interim government, of provoking violence, saying they "have a right to protest, but we must stand between them and the Interior Ministry."

He added that "unknown people" fired live ammunition at protesters from atop buildings in an attempt to ignite rancor between the military and the people.

Amnesty International said police forces "appeared to fire buckshot and rubber bullets into the crowds. Bodies in the Cairo morgue reportedly showed head and chest wounds from live ammunition, including shotgun wounds.”

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-- Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan

 
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