At least 20 people were killed Wednesday in Cairo in clashes between anti-government protesters and attackers. Following these violent clashes, several leading presidential candidates decided to suspend their campaign.
Both sides have traded for hours stones and Molotov cocktails, while civilians were beaten with iron bars on the street. Gunshots were also heard.
The army and riot police forces have set up a security cordon to separate the two camps in the area of Abbassiya district, near the Ministry of Defence.
Calm was gradually achieved in the afternoon, but the protesters stayed behind and the streets leading to the area were closed to traffic.
Several parties and movements have called for demonstrations in this area in Cairo to protest against the violence that left 20 dead and dozens injured, according to doctors at a field hospital near the area .
According to eyewitnesses, unidentified assailants attacked at dawn the protesters gathered for several days to call the army’s departure from power. Among the protesters are supporters of Salafist leader Hazem Abu Ismail, who is one of ten candidates disqualified from the presidential race because of irregularities. According to authorities, his mother was granted a U.S. citizenship, contrary to the election law.
Wednesday’s clashes have brought two major candidates – Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood and the moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul-Futuh to suspend their campaign. Morsi told reporters he was suspending his campaign “for 48 hours in solidarity with the demonstrators “and he held “the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces responsible for the events “.
The ruling Justice and Freedom Party from the Muslim Brotherhood, announced it was boycotting a meeting scheduled Wednesday between Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the junta and political parties, because of the “bloody events” in Abbassiya.
The Party also denounced “attempts to obstruct the transfer of power according to schedule,” referring to the promise of the military junta to cede power to civilians in late June, after the election of a new president.