CAIRO — Egypt plunged deeper into political crisis just eight days before elections, as security forces attacked protesters and torched their tents Sunday in unrest that appears headed toward a second uprising, this time against Egypt’s military rulers.
Thousands of young Egyptians battled security forces for a second day in the streets surrounding Tahrir Square, the nerve center of the revolt that brought down President Hosni Mubarak and left the military in charge of Egypt. Clashes and civil disobedience continued in Alexandria, Suez and other big cities as protesters expressed their solidarity with the capital.
By nightfall, 11 people were reported dead, hundreds were wounded, fires burned in the square, and Egyptians worried that the violence would force a delay in parliamentary elections and leave the ruling military council in power even longer.
The military council expressed “deep regret” over the violence and said the interim government would take unspecified “urgent measures” to restore calm before the elections, elections begin, according to a communique posted on the council’s official Facebook page. The statement did not respond to protesters’ demands for a speedy transfer of power or a revised timetable for presidenti al elections, but denied that it was trying to cling to power.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces reaffirms its unchanging principles, which it has expressed since it first took responsibility, that it does not seek to prolong the transitional period and will not allow any front to hinder the democratic transition and nation-building process,” the statement said.
Earlier, Caretaker Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and the military council met for crisis talks, but one of the senior generals said there would be no delay of elections set to begin Nov. 28.
The caretaker Cabinet issued a statement reiterating its commitment to holding elections on time, even as one of its members, Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazi, resigned in protest of the military’s tactics. Protesters were furious that the Cabinet also announced its support of the interior ministry, which oversees the riot police, the main force battling protesters.
A handful of politicians suspended their election campaigns in solidarity with the demonstrators. Egypt’s first female presidential candidate, Bouthaina Kamel, was briefly arrested in the melee, her family said in online posts.
Egypt’s first female presidential candidate, Bouthaina Kamel, was briefly arrested in the fighting, her family said in online posts.