Two die in Egypt election clashes

Two die in Egypt election clashes
Two people were killed as police fought with voters trying to break the blockades of polling stations on the final day of Egypt’s parliamentary elections.

Government supporters armed with knives, bottles and machetes attacked voters lined up trying to get into several stations to cast ballots, sparking clashes with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government’s main rival.

In the northern town of Damietta, two men were killed after the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds outside polling stations, said Dr Mohammed Balboula of Damietta Public Hospital.

He named the dead as Shaaban Abdu Ahmed Abu Arbaa and Al-Said Hassan el-Dighidi.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Interior Ministry.

Police in Cairo said that more than 130 people had been wounded in election violence in four provinces, and more than 80 people were arrested.

Police also cordoned off polling stations in the southern city of Sohag, frustrating hundreds of voters.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ibrahim Hammad said: “The election process is going normally,” apart from at 10 polling stations where he accused Brotherhood “thugs” of causing disturbances.

“The police are protecting the judges (who supervise polling stations) and helping the voters to reach the ballot box,” Hammad said.

Egypt’s three-stage elections, which began in November, have been plagued by increasing violence as police and government supporters try to put down a strong showing by the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which has so far increased its presence in parliament five-fold.