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Several Protesters Killed in Cairo Attack

At least five people killed by attackers at sit-in protesting against military rulers outside Ministry of Defence.

At least five people killed by attackers at sit-in protesting against military rulers outside Ministry of Defence.

Protesters have been camped out in the area for days calling for an end to military rule

At least five protesters have been killed by armed attackers near the Ministry of Defence in Cairo, Egyptian security and health ministry officials have said.

The unidentified assailants at dawn on Wednesday set upon several hundred protesters who have camped out in the area for days to call for an end to military rule in Egypt.

Egypt's health ministry said that dozens of people had been injured in the attack.

Security officials told the AP news agency that at least 50 protesters were wounded, and that the assailants used rocks, clubs and firebombs.

"This has been an ongoing sit-in for the past five days," Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reported from Cairo, saying that the latest skirmishes began early on Wednesday morning in the neighbourhood near the Abbasiya subway station.

Some of the protesters are supporters of an ultraconservative Islamist presidential hopeful, Hazem Abu Ismail, who was barred from the upcoming presidential election because his mother held dual Egyptian-US citizenship in violation of eligibility rules.

"[The sit-in] initially started off as one that was called for by the angry supporters of Abu Ismail, who was disqualified from the race; people gathered there to protest his disqualification," Rageh said.

"But as with most protests over the past few months, it escalated into something bigger into a protest against the overall military practices and the way the ruling military council has been running the country over the past 14 months."

Rageh said that among those killed on Wednesday were members of the April 6 movement as well as independent protesters.

"[Protesters] have been coming under repeated attacks and skirmishes from people in the neighbourhood; people in plain clothes who have been unhappy about their presence in the predominantly residential neighbourhood," she said.

"As a result there have been injuries over the past few days, but this is perhaps the worst round of violence."

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2012-05-02 01:30:04.0