At least 143 people were injured in Cairo’s Abbasseya district on Saturday when thousands of demonstrators fought opponents with stones after marching to the Defense Ministry to urge their military rulers to speed up reforms, the Health Ministry said.
Central Security and military forces cordoned protesters in Abbasseya, while residents threw stones and molotov cocktails at them.
About 5000 people marched from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Abbasseya to demand the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been ruling the country since February, set up a clear timetable for handing power to an elected civilian government.
A protester told Al-Masry Al-Youm that at least two activists, Amr Gharbeia and Alya el-Husseiny, were kidnapped by a group of thugs.
“We heard that the thugs are going to hand in the two activists to a police station near Abbasseya,” he said. Al-Masry Al-Youm could not independently verify the claims.
Military forces fired shots in the air to disperse protesters as they reached the area. People in the area threw stones at protesters, which injured scores of them.
The march was organized to coincide with 23 July, the day a military coup toppled Egypt's monarchy in 1952.
Protesters carried signs reading, "down with military rule" and "people want the regime to fall."
The No to Military Trials group took part in the march, demanding a halt to trying civilians in military tribunals.
The march took place despite scuffles on Friday night, when about 2000 protesters marched from Tahrir to the headquarters of the SCAF to protest alleged military assaults on demonstrators in Suez and Alexandria on the same day. Army forces prevented the protesters from advancing, blocking Abbasseya Bridge with armored vehicles and firing shots into the air.
It also came just after military statements accused the April 6 Youth Movement of trying to destroy the unity between the SCAF and the people.
"This march was organized for a long time to coincide with 23 July, because we are far from happy with the current military rule. Perhaps the numbers have increased in light of the recent military statements against 6 April," said Nazly Hussein, a protester taking part in the Tahrir Square sit-in that kicked off on 8 July.
"We are in a revolution against the SCAF," said Mohammed Hussein, a protester and accessories shop owner.