At least 59 people have been injured in clashes between protesters and military police near the Ministry of Defence building in Cairo, according to Egypt's Ministry of Health. Clashes broke out after a demonstration in support of the Abbesseya sit-in and against the military rule. Protesters marched from Cairo's symbolic Tahrir square to the district Abbesseya. According to protesters and journalists on the ground security forces fired large amounts of tear gas at the crowd. There were reports of many people suffocating due to tear gas inhalation. Sharif Kouddous, an independent journalist said security forces directly attacked protesters. Gunshots have also been fired to force protesters to retreat. Local media notes it is unclear whether it is plain-clothed individuals or military police who opened fire. It remains unclear how the fighting started. Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party had called for a million people to take part in today's 'Final Friday' protest. Despite an important presence of MB supporters, the party denied on Twitter any involvement in the clashes. Other political and pro-democracy groups also attended the protest. All demanded the military council to respect a July deadline to step down. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been in power in Egypt since the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak. Friday’s protest came amid heightened tension after eleven people were killed and more than 160 wounded in clashes near the defence ministry on Wednesday after armed men assaulted demonstrators protesting against the Elections Commission's decision to disqualify Hazem Abu Ismail from the presidential elections. A group of unidentified armed men attacked several hundreds of protesters who had been staging a sit-in for more than week near the Ministry of Defense building in Abbasseya to protest the dismissal of the Hazem Abu Ismail from the Presidential campaign. Last week the Elections Commission's disqualified the Salafist candidate from running for presidency saying that since his mother became American, he no longer met the requirement of two Egyptian parents to become president. SCAF said on Wednesday they were looking into handing over power if a presidential candidate wins in the first round. The Egyptian elections will take place on 23 and 24 May 2012.
Photo via Rawya Rageh