Egyptian police, voters clash
Violence at polls mars 3d round of election effort
An Egyptian woman tried to leave a voting station in Bussat. A ladder had to be used because police blocked the station. (Getty Images Photo)
MANSOURA, Egypt -- Violence racked the final round of Egypt's troubled parliamentary elections yesterday, as police fired on crowds and used nightsticks and tear gas to bar voters from entering polling stations in opposition strongholds.
At least one person was killed and 60 were wounded, said Mohammed el-Ashqar, a campaign worker for a leftist opposition candidate.
Although voting proceeded without violence or intimidation in some areas, voters were met at the polls by lines of police in towns where ruling party candidates faced stiff competition from the opposition. The only people allowed through were those who said they would cast ballots for President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party, voters said.
In the town of Kafr el-Sheik, north of Cairo, police tried to disperse an unruly crowd with nightsticks and tear gas, bringing volleys of stones from the voters. Police then opened fire, Ashqar said, using live ammunition. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said rubber bullets were fired.
The Interior Ministry confirmed the death, saying the victim was a government supporter. It blamed the opposition Muslim Brotherhood group for the clash, saying its supporters attacked voters and judges monitoring the polls.
It was the second death in violence at the polls since voting began Nov. 9. The elections -- considered a key test of Mubarak's openness to overhaul -- have been plagued by battles between the government and the Brotherhood, Egypt's main Islamic group. The Brotherhood gained seats in the two election stages last month, increasing its presence in Parliament fivefold.
Under pressure from Washington, Mubarak's government has promised democratic overhaul in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation and a top US ally in the region. The Brotherhood -- which is banned but runs candidates as independents -- was given considerable leeway to campaign in the early stages.
Violence and intimidation increased in the second round after the Brotherhood's strong showing in the first. Despite the turmoil, the Brotherhood has won 76 seats, up from 15 in the outgoing assembly. The NDP has won 201 seats, and other independent or opposition candidates have taken 25.
The last 136 of Parliament's 454 seats were being contested in the final round. Runoffs will be held Wednesday in districts where no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote.