Eight Killed in Egyptian Voting Violence
Wednesday, December 7, 2005; 5:08 PM
ZAGAZIG, Egypt -- Police barricaded polling stations and fired tear gas and rubber bullets Wednesday to keep supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood from voting in the final day of parliamentary elections. At least eight people were killed, including a 14-year-old boy.
Supporters of the banned Brotherhood fought back, hurling stones and molotov cocktails and cornering security forces in some towns.
The last day of the vote, which stretched over a month, was by far the most violent. A total of at least 10 people have been killed during the three rounds of balloting, which began Nov. 9 and are considered a key test of President Hosni Mubarak's pledge to open the autocratic political system.
Hundreds have been wounded and more than 1,000 arrested, mainly supporters of the fundamentalist Brotherhood, which _ while banned _ has fielded candidates as independents.
The Brotherhood has 35 candidates in Wednesday's runoff for the remaining 127 of 444 seats in parliament. Polling is taking place in nine provinces where no candidate received more than half the vote in the third round of polling Dec. 1.
The Brotherhood calls for implementing Islamic law but has long been vague about what that means. It campaigns for head scarves for women and against immodest dress, but it insists it stands for a more moderate version of Islam than in Saudi Arabia.
So far, Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party and its allied independents have won 222 seats. Early official results Wednesday showed the Brotherhood had taken six more seats for a total of 82, a large jump over the 15 seats it held in the outgoing parliament. Independents have won two seats and other opposition parties 11.
In the northern Sinai town of El-Arish, police blocked Brotherhood voters from polling places Wednesday and many fought back with a hail of stones and firebombs, cornering police in the narrow streets of the Mediterranean city.
When reinforcements failed to control the crowd, police fled and angry voters rioted and destroyed the city headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Government supporters in Zagazig, a Nile Delta city 50 miles northeast of Cairo, were brought to polling stations in an armored police vehicle. They emerged armed with machetes and pushed back voters who were trying to break through police lines to get into polling stations.
Fourteen-year-old Mohammed Karam el-Taher was killed when police fired at demonstrators in Qattawiya, a Nile Delta village in el-Sharqiya province not far from Zagazig. A 22-year-old man also died in the village of gunshot wounds to the head, according to police, while another man was killed elsewhere in the province.
Three men were shot and killed in the northern town of Damietta, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds outside polling stations, according to Dr. Mohammed Balboula of Damietta Public Hospital and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.