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1 Dead, Hundreds Wounded, Dozens Arrested in Egypt Clashes

Egyptian troops have fired tear gas and water cannons at tens of thousands of protesters who rallied near the Defense Ministry in Cairo demanding an immediate end to military rule.

Officials say one soldier was killed and nearly 300 people were injured Friday. More than 170 people also were arrested by the military just weeks before the landmark presidential elections.

Earlier, Egypt's ruling military council announced a curfew in the area surrounding the Defense Ministry where mostly Islamist protesters have been camping for days.

The violence comes two days after fighting in Cairo left at least 11 people dead and more than 100 wounded, and prompted the two top Islamist candidates for the presidency to suspend their campaigns.

Egypt's presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24. The military rulers have vowed the elections will be fair.

The election will be the first since a popular uprising ousted longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago.

The military council that took over from Mubarak has promised a democratic transition and transfer of power to an elected president by July 1. But Egypt's generals have faced strong domestic criticism for their handling of that process, which has been plagued by periodic eruptions of deadly violence, often surrounding anti-government protests in major cities.

Islamists are angered by the ruling military's decision to bar ultraconservative Islamist cleric Hazem Abu Ismail from standing in the presidential contest. Egypt's election commission disqualified Abu Ismail because his mother had taken joint U.S. citizenship.



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Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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